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Optus drops plans for 4K Olympics

Exclusive: Seven, Optus & Fetch abandon a previously-announced 4K Olympics channel.

EXCLUSIVE: Optus has dropped plans to screen the Tokyo Olympics in 4K Ultra HD.

In December 2019 the telco announced plans for a channel featuring Seven’s coverage of Tokyo 2020 in 4K Ultra HD, available to Optus 5G Home customers via Fetch.

The announcement was made by Seven West Media Chief Revenue Officer, Kurt Burnette, Optus VP Product Development, TV and Content, Clive Dickens -formerly Chief Digital Officer at Seven- and Fetch CEO, Scott Lorson.

An Optus spokesperson told TV Tonight, “With the postponement of the Olympics to 2021, Seven, Optus and Fetch mutually decided last year to not pursue this opportunity, focussing our efforts and investment in becoming a proud partner of their exclusive HD and streaming coverage across Channel 7 and 7plus.”

Seven will screen 45 dedicated Olympic channels across Seven and 7plus Live in HD -but there is now no 4K offer in 2021.

27 Responses

  1. Well that’s sad, most other technologically developed countries with high speed broadband will see their Olympics coverage in 4K, Japan has invested a lot in providing state of the art Ultra High Definition cameras to bring the games to the world and Australia perhaps predictably will miss out.
    Interesting that Channel 7 is still associating itself with Optus after a parting of the ways a few decades ago with C7 Sports. All the same the lack of 4K for Australian audiences is something that needs sorting out.

    1. … actually it’s not “Japan” that provides the UHD cameras “to bring the games to the world”, it’s Olympic Broadcasting Services, the host broadcaster that does that … Japan’s NHK, the local rightsholder, has however invested in a lot of 8K cameras for their own use, which is also being offered via OBS to other rightsholders …

      1. NBCUniversal has confirmed that it will provide live coverage of the Olympics in 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos, NBCUniversal will also offer its partners the service as well though Peacock was not mentioned. I would think that Europe and the BBC in the UK may introduce similar services in the near furure, meanwhile Australia is still struggling with HD.

        1. … well maybe … this is from an article in ibc.org three days ago speaking to Dave Mazza, SVP and chief technical officer, NBC Sports Group and NBC Olympics – “NBC will be taking HD 1080P HDR feeds from Tokyo, producing much of it back in Stamford and other US hubs, and upconverting some of it to UHD.”

  2. There is no way FTA in Australia will ever get 4k they will have every excuse under the sun as to why not, thank god for Foxtel watching AFL, NRL, Cricket, and F1 in 4k is fantastic super sharp 🙂

    1. Random question: Do you (or anyone) know if these are available on Kayo or through a streaming platform? I’m looking at buying a 4K tv and this would tip me over the edge to invest in one.

      1. No 4K via Kayo unfortunately, would be awesome if they did (I did provide that feedback on a survey a while back to them)… and personally I’m sick of the non-stop ads on Foxtel about ‘Footy in Ultra High Definition’ when you’re lucky to get 1 AFL game a week live in 4K. Whilst all the games are on, they’re usually showing replays of F1 or old AFL/NRL games on the channel.

      2. Buy your 4K TV anyway as they are pretty much commonplace now and it will give you the Standard Definition Resolution you need for the clear sharp images that are best on 60Hz panel TV’s. If you want a super bright screen suitable for Ultra High Definition or Dolby Vision content you should consider the more expensive 120Hz UHD models. There are still a few available at reasonable prices.

      3. No, Kayo is only HD but it’s higher resolution than FTA, when you compare AFL and NRL. I wish 7 could offer a 4K option for the Olympics on their streaming service, even if you have to pay a premium.

    2. In theory FTA could do 4K, but the main reason why they won’t would be the amount of space it would take in their allocated spectrum thereby limiting the number of channels they could offer in total, and the fact not everyone has 4k TVs.

      1. The USA is progressing towards NextGen TV which is also known as ATSC 3.0. To watch you don’t have a monthly fee but you do need a TV with a built in tuner, you will also need to live in the 24 US cities where it is currently broadcasting. NextGen can carry UHD 4K video, HDR and wide colour gamut, high frame rates up to 120Hz.

    3. Best option for 4K Olympics is BBC if you can understand the technical steeps needed or wait for DVD UHD recordings ? Your 4k tv is useless in Australia unless you get steaming Netfix etc . Local tv is i believe one of the lowest HD standards available. Particularly 7 AFL .SBS 30 is better but mpeg 2 , old format but looks the best HD.

      1. Sadly the BBC has also pulled their plans to stream the olympics in 4K, sighting cost reasons

        And NBCUniversal have actually also opted to purely upconvert the 1080p streams to 4k as was going to be too costly to do the straight 4k streams.

  3. I hope Channel 7 replicates what they did at the last Olympics, namely having the raw channels from the IOC Media Centre on the website showing the entire event uninterrupted with no commentary. It was great to be able to watch sports which don’t normally make the main channel such as weightlifting, hammer throw and shot put. As I remember, Channel 7 charged $29.95 to have access to this website and the videos and if they do it again this time I will happily pay that amount again.

  4. Whilst it seems it was going initially to be used as a publicity vehicle for Optus 5G, there is no reason why they can’t stream the 4K feed anyway. It’s not as though there won’t be a feed. Easiest way would be to add a HBBTV stream for connected TVs (press Red for 4K).

    You don’t need 5G to watch 4K. Just a fast enough broadband speed. I watched Wimbledon in 4K via BBC iPlayer. It was using around 40mb/s and used 50Gb of data. (I also watched Wimbledon in 3D the week before, but that involved my own 4 eyes, 2 vaccine jabs and a £116 ticket!)

    1. Host Broadcasters will receive a 1080i 59.94Hz HD signal and a 2160p HDR HLG UHD/4K 59.94Hz signal with 5.1.4 audio. Even if 7 wanted to transmit a clean feed (and they don’t), neither can be beamed directly to consumers given the extremely high data rates and formats used, & it also needs to go through 50Hz standards conversion for local broadcast.

      The main holdup/expense would be in producing adaptive bitrate streaming encodes across multiple resolutions, codecs, formats, and bandwidth tiers, and delivering that to the consumer, particularly in a unicast/on-demand environment.

      To that effect, the Optus 5G trial was likely less about 5G being a hard requirement & more to keep audience low and thus compute and and bandwidth down as well as reducing the need to create lower-tier streams.

      It’s still a complete joke that Australia lags much of the world on 4K (and has for decades with HD as well) but it certainly doesn’t come for free just because there’s a feed available.

      1. Considering that the Olympics are intended for global broadcast and will be live most if not all of the time, I would think that there would be PAL cameras set up for regions that broadcast in 50Hz, rather than being converted on the fly (which will introduce visual anomalies). For example, you can find disparate footage from FIFA World Cup broadcasts (which would have been broadcast to different markets), and the Olympics are a much bigger fish than FIFA.

        1. Olympic Broadcasting Services, the host broadcaster, supplies the Games in one format which, for practical purposes, is the format of the host country, it is then converted “on the fly” for rights-holding broadcasters into their own requirements … so no, in Tokyo there are no “PAL cameras” in the host broadcast set up in exactly the same way as there were no NTSC cameras in the SOBO feeds in Sydney or AOB feeds in Athens … some rights-holding broadcasters do have cameras in their own country’s format for their own purposes …

          1. Yet other sources quote 3.2 billion for 2016. The thing is many many people tend to watch Football in pubs or clubs, unlike the olympics which is predominately watched at home.

          1. … dunno why soccer tragics keep pretending that … 2016 Olympics 3.6bil (Source: Statista); 2018 World Cup 3.57bil (Source: FIFA) … close but no cigar …

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