IOC not focused on 4K coverage for Rio 2016

The International Olympic Committee has said it holds no plans to drive an extended roll out of ultra high-definition 4K coverage for the 2016 summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Olympic Broadcast Services chief executive Yiannis Exarchos told the Hollywood Reporter that there is “no demand from our rights holders for 4K” and explained that trials in virtual reality technologies are more likely at the multi-sport showpiece, while quality mobile streaming services are a priority.

Exarchos said: “The technology is maturing quickly. There is real interest in virtual experiences to mobile phones. One VR application we are exploring is around viewing aspects of the Games after the event.

“You have to look at where broadcasters are placing their investment. More important to them than 4K is delivery of content to mobile.”

On the reluctance to invest in production for 4K television sets, which are now widely available from retailers, Exarchos explained that the difference between regular HD and 4K is not felt to be significant enough. OBS is working with Japanese public-service broadcaster NHK to produce 8K footage.

The technology is 16 times the resolution of HD and is targeted for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. NHK tested 8K production at last year’s winter Olympics in Sochi and the Fifa World Cup in Brazil, with further development alongside OBS intended for Rio.

Exarchos added: “In my opinion 8K is much more of a game-changer than 4K. You can really see a huge difference in experience whereas the gap between HD and 4K is far less. We are experimenting with the syntax of producing in 8K. For example, do we need to edit the pictures?”