HD HDR Explained: BT Sport make broadcast history yet again

What is HD HDR? When can I watch it? How can I watch it? All your questions on BT Sport's stunning new venture are answered right here.

Published: 5 August 2020 - 2.05pm

The launch of HD High Dynamic Range (HDR) provides BT Sport customers with the world's best image quality as we continue to offer the very latest technology to improve user experiences.

Here, BTSport.com explains what HDR means for you, the ways it can be accessed and how the stunning new HD HDR resolution was launched for the Champions League final between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool.

What is HD HDR?​

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and is the next big step forward for BT Sport following 4K UHD. Put simply, HDR will provide the highest quality TV pictures ever seen.

While 4K UHD provides stunning ultra-high definition with more pixels than ever before, HDR provides the same but with even ‘better pixels’.

Higher contrast between light and dark, more vivid colours and brighter images on screen are offered with HDR, which means an overall enhanced viewing experience.

Like an HDR camera, HDR resolution will produce images that have a greater contrast between light and dark. But unlike a HDR camera, it will not need to combine several separate photos.

HDR is the new frontier for image quality
HDR is the new frontier for image quality

Instead HDR provides a truer rendering of colour using better camera technology to capture the footage in the first place.

In a standard display, everything below a certain brightness is the same shade of black. In HDR TV, the display range is broader, meaning that you can tell the difference between those different shades of black.

It preserves the finest details in the darkest and brightest areas of a picture and creates colours that are closer to how we see them in real life.

And it’s also great news for fans of watching TV on a mobile device. HDR is a perfect fit because it delivers an improved viewing experience even on smaller screens – while 4K truly requires large screens to tell the difference.

Jamie Hindhaugh, BT Sport's chief operating officer, said: “BT Sport continues to offer our customers unrivalled choice, with the best content, the smartest devices and the latest technology, through partnerships with the world’s most innovative companies.

“The launch of HDR maintains BT Sport’s leadership in bringing fans the very best pictures and sound following its debut as Europe’s first 4K broadcaster in 2015 and its worldwide debut of Dolby Atmos sound in 2017.”

The difference between SDR and HDR
The difference between SDR and HDR

Where can I watch HDR?

The vast majority of 4K TVs sold in the last few years also support High Dynamic Resolution.

HDR is supported by all the platforms on which we built the BT Sport large-screen app: Apple TV, Samsung TV, Xbox and even NowTV all support HDR on their new 4K box.

On smaller screens, an increasing number of mobile phones now support HDR.

IOS devices from iPhone 8 onwards, Samsung Galaxy smartphones from S9 onwards and virtually all 5G smartphones support HDR as standard.

When can I watch HDR on BT Sport?​

HDR was handed a first-team debut on Saturday 1 June for the Champions League final in Madrid.

All BT Sport subscribers (including EE and Plusnet) were able to watch the showpiece final at the Wanda Metropolitano using HDR resolution. The benefit can be seen on screens of all sizes and the live HDR coverage on a mobile device is a world first

It means BT Sport are again the first in the UK with another major technical innovation as we provide a taster of what is to come from HDR viewing.

Fans were able to watch the final in VR360 on mobile or tablet via the BT Sport app, allowing viewers to choose between a VR360 produced programme with commentary and graphics, or select their own camera viewpoint.

How will I be able to watch it?​

Logged in customers with an HDR-capable device will be served with a 'tile' on the homepage if the Champions League final is available to them.

HDR will be referred to in the ‘Player-chooser’ pop-up, so you can still watch in the standard player if you choose.

Customers without an HDR-capable device or logged-out users will be served with the normal tile on the homepage without any reference to HDR.

For casting/airplay, users need an HDR-compatible device, capable Apple TV/Chromecast and capable TV to watch in HDR. The app will detect HDR compatibility and serve the appropriate stream.

On the large-screen app HDR availability will be signalled to logged-in users by an HDR icon on compatible systems (on Apple TV, users will not see an HDR icon, but will only see the HDR channel bug when they are playing the channel.)

Users without HDR-compatible systems will not see any reference to HDR in the app.

For more detailed setup instructions, click here.

What is the plan for the future of HDR?​

BT Sport will keep pushing the boundaries of sports broadcasting by showing up to 70 live events in High Dynamic Range per season.

These events will be available in HD HDR on the small screen app and 4K HDR on large screens.

The 4K channel will be available full-time on large screens, but customers will require a 4K HDR bolt-on to access this content. It will be bundled for free with some BT/EE plans. Other customers will be able to purchase the bolt-on.