By Chris Chinnock
NHK’s 8K satellite service, BS8K, will provide 8K coverage of eight live events at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. This includes the opening and closing ceremonies, judo, swimming, track & field, table tennis, volleyball, and football (soccer). Below is the tentative schedule for live 8K coverage of various events, or view the BS8K broadcast page here.
Unfortunately, no broadcaster has opted to distribute 8K content outside of Japan. This is a big disappointment for many who were hoping the event would be a clear showcase for the power of these images. Instead, Olympic organizers and broadcasters are focusing on other innovative sports broadcasting technologies and techniques.
A very comprehensive article on the IBC website describes some of the key new elements that will be part of the 2020 Olympics. This includes full production of all live events in 4K HDR along with a simultaneous 1080i SDR feed. As the article points out, new technologies like enhanced audio, 5G, volumetric capture, athlete tracking, 360-degree replays, virtual reality, and more are also demonstrated at designated venues. These are certainly impressive developments in sports broadcasting that can help tell the story, but so is 8K.
For some reason, 8K is “not an official part of the host broadcast,” making it very difficult for content to be widely available. The media will see 8K content on a giant screen, but it is unclear if there will be other public 8K viewing zones.
The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics are coming up soon, and plans are being put in place to capture more in 8K. Let’s hope consumers will get a chance to enjoy this content in all its glory.