BBC iPlayer will today begin streaming test Ultra High Definition (UHD) and High Dynamic Range (HDR) footage on iPlayer.


The four minutes of Planet Earth II footage will be available in Ultra HD and Hybrid Log-Gamma (the BBCs version of HDR) on compatible connected TVs until early next year.


The BBC iPlayer test footage follows a jaguar emerging from the shadows to stalk prey and the effects of rain dropping on tiny animals and their habitats, including a range of greens and a frog in a shade of red never before seen on a TV.


The BBC says the experiment is an “early but important step toward streaming high-quality Ultra HD programmes on BBC iPlayer in the future.” 


Central to the trial is the inclusion of HLG, a version of HDR developed by BBC R&D and Japanese broadcaster NHK.


Dan Taylor-Watt, Head of BBC iPlayer, said: “The extra quality HLG brings to Ultra HD needs to be seen to be believed. It’s still early days for the technology but this experiment puts us in the best possible position once audience demand is there. This year we’ve brought live events like the Euros and Olympics to iPlayer, introduced new personalised features and now we’re giving people a glimpse of what the future may hold.”


The public Ultra HD and HLG test on BBC iPlayer will allow the BBC to better understand how the technology affects existing infrastructure and workflows. It also allows the team to identify the various obstacles and challenges to streaming full length programmes.


Phil Layton, Head of Broadcast & Connected Systems, BBC Research & Development, said: “Increasing the dynamic range of TV images makes a huge difference to how real the images appear to viewers – it’s closer to looking through a window than watching a standard TV set. Crucially, HLG works with existing TV technology and workflows making it ideal for broadcasters, and audiences, all over the world.”


Jon Creamer

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