SportsNet pushes out the 4K: All 81 Toronto Blue Jays regular season games to air in Ultra HD

by on April 15, 2016

Stephan Jukic – April 15, 2016

Major League Baseball delivered a TV tech frontier milestone this past Wednesday night when the Toronto Blue Jays faced off against the New York Yankees. This was done in the form of live 4K broadcasting of the event to select subscribers of Rogers Sportsnet and its newly developed 4K content services for certain regions.

More specifically, the Canadian Sports TV service Sportsnet has positioned a total of 12 different professional 4K broadcast cameras throughout Rogers Center in Toronto, Canada for the sake of broadcasting the whole Blue Jays home game season, for a total of 81 games in ultra HD resolution to subscribers of Rogers 4K content in Canada.

Speaking about the value of 4K resolution and its crisp, sharper colors and details, Scott Moore, president of Sportsnet and NHL at Rogers Media explained that, “It’s a lot about the greens and the grass and the outdoors,”

Rogers, Canada’s largest provider of cable and mobile services, is now pitching 4K video to subscribers for a growing amount of its live sportscasts and canned content. Furthermore, in doing this, the company is also giving some serious competitive heat to many U.S broadcasters, who are also involved in plans for live 4K sportscasts but haven’t yet really gotten major consumer market services off the ground yet.

There have however been experiments already in the U.S side of the sports broadcasting game: Last week, AT&T/DirecTV, aired the Masters Golf Tourney held in Atlanta, Georgia on DirecTV’s own dedicated 4K satellite broadcasting channel. The first day of the Golf broadcast in 4K was also the same date on which DirecTV took its first 4K channel live for subscribers to their top-shelf Ultimate or Premier packages who also own one of the company’s Genie HD DVR boxes.

This U.S-based 4K UHD sportscast and content package from DirecTV is now live and offering content on at least one channel so far through the Genie HD DVR but it is still the only broadcast 4K content option of its kind in the U.S so far and it’s now also already moving to match the sorts of live 4K Baseball offerings as the Rogers live 4K sports service north of the border.

For the sake of performing its 4K broadcasts and transmissions, Rogers built dedicated mobile TV production trucks which sit parked outside of Rogers Center. The master control facility in these trucks controls all of the 12 4K cameras in the arena and on Wednesday’s broadcast, the 4K recording equipment captured various moments in extreme close-up for the sake of showing off the new resolution, at 3840 x 2160 pixels.

One of Roger's 4K broadcast facilities

One of Roger’s 4K broadcast facilities

Some of these 4K broadcasts are also being recorded in HD and upconverted from that resolution but Sportsnet is genuinely delivering native 4K video live from the Rogers Center to Rogers own communications facilities for the sake of live transmission to the company’s cable customers and rival distributors with licensed access to the Sportsnet service.

Rogers is also moving ahead with still more ambitious ultra HD broadcast plans, with a schedule of more than 500 hours of live sports, movies and TV shows in the new resolution being planned and executed for delivery to subscribers of Roger’s NetBox 4K set-top box and accompanying cable TV package. Obviously enough, these subscribers also need to own a 4K ultra HD TV to fully enjoy the new service.

The 4K Sportsnet service is available through the NetBox set-top box on channels 997 and 998, with other 4K content such as nature video footage being available on channel 999. The Canadian telecoms giant has also partnered up with Netflix to allow their 4K streaming content selections to also appear as an entertainment option for subscribers.

Finally, the company is also equipped to handle multiple 4K channel streams at the same time, thus letting people watch a Netflix movie in ultra HD in one TV while a 4K Blue-Jays game is being streamed live in UHD in another TV in the same house. Once again, according to Scott Moore, the Rogers powerful fiber-optic network is strong enough for all of the bandwidth required for these different UHD video streamed, allowing for both live 4K broadcasts and canned ultra HD content to reach a home at the same time to different 4K TVs.

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