LG & SES Developing High Frame Rate HDR 4K Broadcasting for Sports and Other Content

by on May 17, 2017

Stephan Jukic – May 17, 2017

While opinions on high frame rate (HFR) broadcasting are often mixed among consumers due to the effects it can create on certain types of content and especially on movies, there is still more than enough interest in the technology for a multitude of popular home entertainment options.

In other words, Wwhile movies like Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” put a lot of people off HFR due to the uncanny clarity they create in the video being watched, the use of this technology could be an excellent fit for the latest in live sports broadcasting and other types of high-speed TV programming. Throw HDR formatting and 4K UHD resolution into the blend and you’ve got one very enticing combination for seeing these kinds of entertainment in a way that’s never before been so sharp.

Well, this is what LG is now working on in the hope that audiences will appreciate lots of frame rates when it comes to their soccer, football, basketball and other action entertainment spectacles for 4K TVs. The electronics company has partnered up with the satellite services provider SES to demonstrate just how good they thing HFR 4K broadcasts can look. Their starting gate for this demonstration is Luxembourg and the two companies have already presented one “cutting-edge” 4K High Frame Rate broadcast during the SES Industry Days conference on the 16th of May. Their second demonstration was scheduled for today, the 17th.

According to PR for SES about this event,

“SES has been steadily pushing forward the development of Ultra HD, and the Industry Days event has always been an excellent platform to showcase new TV technology”

The 4K HFR broadcasts in question were/are being transmitted live through one of SES’s ASTRA satellites for display to one of LG’s newest OLED 4K HDR TVs, which all come with 120Hz native refresh rates on their displays for frame rates of 120fps. Consequently, at least for now, the new HFR technology from SES and LG pushes the frames of their live broadcast sports content to 120fps in order to match the maximum that the LG OLED 4K TV is capable of. Since most current 4K and HD broadcast delivery technology only reaches to between 50 and 60fps even for live fast-paced sports content, the literal doubling of the frame rates means a major difference. For other types of programming besides sports, the fps is commonly even lower today –shows like “Breaking Bad” and many Netflix Original Series shot in 4K are recorded in cinematic 24fps speed and other programming like news and documentaries are often shot at 30fps.

Now as we said above, the 120fps HFR that LG and SES are working on wouldn’t work well for many types of programming. Most audiences would probably prefer seeing their favorite movies and fictional TV shows in cinematic 24fps but for sportscasts and fast-paced live programming, HFR technology could serve wonderfully at cleaning up motion blur and judder even further than is currently the case with lots of highly detailed action. The absolute best candidates that fall under this category of content now are of course 4K ultra HD HDR sports events like those already being broadcast to consumers in the U.S and worldwide by some OTT providers.

As Thomas Wrede, VP of New Technology & Standards at SES states in recent press release material:

“SES has been steadily pushing forward the development of Ultra HD, and the Industry Days event has always been an excellent platform to showcase new TV technology. High Frame Rate will be an important step towards further enhancing the quality of Ultra HD satellite transmissions, in particular for sports and reality TV events. Our continued partnership with LG Electronics is important in setting the broadcast standards of tomorrow and pioneering future TV technologies, and we are very pleased to work with LG Electronics on such an important milestone.”


On the other hand, this technology is still in its very initial demo stages and all current 4K broadcasting is delivered to consumers at much slower frame rates. Furthermore, the delivery of this content at 120fps would also mean larger data transmission requirements since those extra frames would contain additional content action segments that slower frame rate recording wouldn’t capture.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that for now, these HFR demo broadcasts are only being delivered to LG’s OLED HDR TVs at a single highly limited trade show event, with this technology having not even reached the pilot broadcast stage yet. Despite this, the idea of HDR broadcasting for sports and other fast-paced live content is indeed exciting due to the sort of amazing sharpness it could provide in conjunction with other cutting-edge home theater display technologies like HDR mastering and next-generation audio like Dolby Atmos sound, which are all also mentioned in LG and SES’s press release material on HFR broadcasting.

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