The 2014 FIFA World Cup, which will see 32 of the world’s best national football teams descend on Brazil for the 20th edition of the quadrennial tournament, will much like the 2012 Olympic Games be seen as a breeding ground for many innovations in sports broadcasting, but it appears as though one of the first confirmed developments will be occurring outside of the host nation or tournament organisers such as FIFA, as Japanese authorities confirm plans to air select matches of the event in the new 4K resolution format.
While national public broadcaster NHK had previously offered its assistance in public screenings of the 2012 Olympic Games in ‘Super Hi-Vision’, and provided their unique simultaneous ‘surface/underwater cameras’, it is the Internal Affairs and Communications department of the 126m-strong Asian nation that has confirmed the new proposals.
While the international feed of the tournament will most likely be used for footage, the department claim that they will broadcast the event to Japanese citizens through their own specially-made communications satellites that can handle full 4KHD-quality transmissions (named after being able to fit a screen over 4,000 pixels wide, also noted as 4 times higher-quality than regular HD), as opposed to ‘standard broadcast satellites’.
The report on the matter (roughly translated) from the Asahi Times notes: “Ministry of Internal Affairs decided to broadcast using the next-generation of high-definition TV technology ‘4K’ policy 7/2014 to start for the first time in the world. It plans to expand the first CS begin with satellite and terrestrial, BS. Besides ushering in global spread of broadcasting content that uses new technology, took a breather in the transition to digital terrestrial broadcasting TV demand is there. 4K, compared to the current HD system resolution, [is] 4x [the quality of regular] video technology. Ministry of Internal Affairs had aims to start broadcasting in 16 years, to bring forward more than a year. FIFA World Cup Brazil at the 7/14 (World Cup) finals match.”
While it is unknown how many matches from the FIFA World Cup will be covered this way, or how readily available 4K coverage will be elsewhere in the world, the announcement symbolises Japan’s commitment to the development of 4K HD technology, and will most likely be working on the matter alongside home-grown company Sony, an official FIFA Partner and FIFA World Cup Sponsor who will presumably be filming the tournament in 4K cameras and downscaling to HD or SD for networks around the world.
However, it seems as though at least one country will be taking on the highest-quality coverage possible, but on the pitch will Japan’s national football team (who are participating in this summer’s 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil, an 8-team tournament of continental champions that will serve as a ‘warm-up’ for the World Cup organisers) manage to continue their 4-tournament qualification streak for the event and give local viewers extra motivation to try out 4K viewing?