EBU Technology & Innovation has published the results of a survey, conducted among EBU Members in late 2019, on the adoption of UHDTV services, including High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Next Generation Audio (NGA) formats. The results were published as BPN 120 and are available to EBU Members only.
The data, gathered from about two dozen EBU Members and countries, suggests several overall conclusions – though the wide range of economical contexts and technical infrastructures in the European broadcasting area makes generalizations difficult.
A convergent evolution towards UHDTV
One overall conclusion is that the introduction of UHDTV services is occurring more in the manner of an evolution, rather than a revolution. UHDTV services are a core part of broadcasters' strategic planning, but not the highest priority on the agenda. Rather, the introduction of new production formats is likely to follow the rhythm of typical replacement cycles for technical equipment: about 50% of the survey respondents indicated that the adoption of UHDTV would form part of their transition to IP infrastructures.
Interlaced is (slowly) going
Among the responding organizations, interlaced SDTV (576i/25) and HDTV (1080i/25) are currently still the most widely used formats. This is expected to decline in the near future, with interlaced formats giving way to either 1080p/50 or 2160p/50. Over the next five years, it is likely that all the main production formats – namely 567i/25, 1080i/25, 720p/50, 1080p/25, 1080p/50 SDR, 1080p/50 HDR, 2160p/50 SDR and 2160p/50 HDR – will be in use somewhere within the European broadcast area.
Low interest in dynamic metadata HDR
In terms of HDR formats, EBU Members have specified both HLG10 and HDR10 as distribution formats. The appetite for dynamic metadata for HDR seems to be low however, with more than half of the surveyed Members not planning to use it. Only three broadcasters confirmed plans to use dynamic metadata, and each of those expected to use a different system (SL-HDR, Dolby Vision, HDR10+).
NGA sees interest and bottlenecks
With regards to audio, the survery shows that media organizations are interested in Next Generation Audio, with several of them considering to offer NGA services. However, obstacles remain, with respondents pointing to a lack of support for multiple NGA codecs by CE vendors, a lack of good user interfaces to access NGA features in TVs, and questions about the user acceptance of new services.
Tracking changes over time
The EBU intends to repeat the survey on a yearly basis. It is used to shape the work of the Strategic Programme on Production, which includes the EBU Audio Systems and Video Systems groups. These groups help with the understanding, testing and best use of new audiovisual technology.