Beyond HD

Helped Members look to the future and understand their options for television image quality.

Television image quality has continuously evolved over the last 50 years. Improvements in displays, video compression efficiency, chip gate density, and more will continue to shape the future of television. To keep up with public demand for even better and more immersive experiences, broadcasters need to look beyond today’s HDTV and ask “what’s next?”

UHDTV rationale and goals

UHDTV stands for Ultra High Definition Television. It is the natural evolution from HDTV (High Definition) to a higher fidelity television standard. Indeed Television has always aimed at providing to a remote viewer the possibility to experience the event as if he was there.
UHDTV is another step toward this immersion goal. UHDTV is a new television format that should provide an immersive audio visual experience to the viewer. It aims at improving the “sense of being there” and the “sense of realness“ of the content being viewed. To achieve these two goals, all parameters of the video signals (resolution, colour gamut, frame rate and dynamic range) are enhanced to get the viewing experience even closer to reality.

What is it?

In fact the viewer’s field of view is filled with a picture of higher resolution, wider color gamut – WCG, higher frame rate and higher dynamic range (HDR). UHDTV is defined in the ITU R BT.2020 which describes all its core parameters.


The first parameter is the resolution, which represents the picture raster (number lines vs number columns) and two (2) values are proposed :
- 3840x2160p ( four times HDTV commonly refered as 4k).
- 7680x4320p ( 16 times HDTV resolution and commly referred as 8k).


Color gamut
The second parameter is the color gamut, defined by three primaries (RGB). These primaries describe a triangle which is a subset of the human perceptible colors. Rec. BT 2020 widens the spectum of colors that can be reproduced compared to HDTV (Rec. 709).


Frame rate
The third parameter the frame rate, which is the number of pictures per second. It is extended to 100Hz ( resp. 120Hz ) to allow a better reproduction of object in motion espcially for sport content (improves the temporal resolution).


Dynamic range
The fourth parameter, the dynamic range is the range of perceptible light levels between the deepest darks and the brightest highlights in the scene, therefore enables the perception of more details these areas. today the dynamic range (Standard Dynamice Range - SDR) is defined in ITU-BT 1886 and is an heritage of the CRT era, limiting the maximum brightness level at 100cd/m2. With today’s display technologies, a higher brightness level can be captured and displayed, providing even more detail reproduction. Therefore, a new specification on higher dynamic range (HDR) was produced by the ITU. the latter shall be published in a few months.

Beyond HD -> Video Systems

In July 2017, the topics covered by Beyond HD were moved to the new EBU Strategic Programme on Video Systems.

EBU Technology & Innovation Workplan

Every two years, the EBU develops a roadmap for technology and innovation activities based on the requirements and inputs given by EBU Members. The result of this roadmap is our bi-annual EBU Technology & Innovation Workplan. Strategic programmes and project groups are set up to focus on specific areas of interest. To access the latest Workplan, click here.


What are the UHD phases?

The ITU BT.2020 provides the technical guidelines to implement UHDTV.
On the basis of this document the EBU and DVB worked together in several workshops to consider the broadcast industry commercial requirements in each market in order to establish a coherent UHDTV service timeline.

The workshops resulted in the following phases :

UHD1 - Phase 1: is only a resolution increase from HDTV to 4k. This phase was driven by the availability of legacy 4k devices on the market. DVB established a receiver specification to enable further interoperability between these devices.

UHD1 - Phase 2: Most service providers consider this phase as a real step forward in terms of added value for viewers when compared with the existing HDTV services. This phase includes HDR and HFR as enhancement factors on top of the 4k resolution. Despite the recognized added value of HFR especially for sport content, the availability in the short term of HFR capable systems and their costs was still a concern at the time the timeline was established. This lead to the creation of two sub phases. Phase 2a which deploys 4k and HDR ( and phase 2b which also includes HFR on top of phase 2a.

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