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How to watch Euro 2020 in 4K HDR (and for free)

We’re now a week into Euro 2020 and the action is ramping up as we head towards the end of the group stage. Many of these excellent games have already been shown in 4K – and here’s how to get it working with ease.

Following on from the success of the BBC’s 4K World Cup coverage, 22 European Championship games will be broadcast in 4K HDR in the UK.

Sadly, this only applies to 22 of the BBC’s 25 match allocation. ITV’s selection won’t be broadcast in 4K (just HD, and it doesn’t seem like it even hits that on ITV Hub) so those gearing up to watch England vs Scotland (which takes place on June 18) shouldn’t expect to see the 4K benefits.

Most obviously, you need a 4K TV, but just having a television that supports UHD resolutions on its own isn’t enough.

You’ll also need a device that supports the iPlayer app’s “experimental” 4K feature. While almost all smart TVs have BBC iPlayer built in, not all support UHD streaming.

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The BBC has a long, expanding list of compatible TVs here, but don’t despair if yours isn’t listed: various Roku devices are listed, and plug straight into a spare HDMI port. This would be a great way of adding 4K support to iPlayer without investing in a whole new TV.

You also need an internet connection with the bandwidth to deal with a UHD stream. The BBC recommends a speed of 24MBit/s for 4K or 12MBit/s for a reduced experience. If you’re bumping up against the top of that, you may want to ensure nobody else is streaming or playing games at the same time the home nations are playing.

HDR requires a TV that supports the HLG standard to bring the added advantages of brighter, punchier and more realistic colours that’s the cornerstone of HDR.

It seems like all the games BBC is showing UHD, also benefit from HDR if you have TV that supports it.

There are some big omissions worth flagging at this point. Firstly, you can’t watch Euro 2020 in 4K HDR in your browser, even if you have a UHD monitor. It also doesn’t support phone apps, so no broadcasting the football to your Chromecast Ultra.

You also can’t view it on an iPad Pro 2021, even though we think the games would look excellent on that Mini LED display. The latest Apple TV is also lacking support.

iPlayer on Sky Q is “not currently supported”, which is a bit of a let-down given UHD content is one of the main benefits. You’ll be stuck with standard FHD here.

Assuming you have the compatible hardware, watching Euro 2020 in 4K is pretty straightforward. Just make sure that you’ve set it up right in the settings, first:

  1. Go to BBC iPlayer Settings

2. Press Settings & Help

3. Select Video Quality

4. Choose Best Quality

Obviously there are no matches on at the moment to test this with, but a search for UHD content shows a small ‘UHD’ logo above the title when you’re watching, so you should know it’s working if you can’t eyeball it.

That said, if the picture quality doesn’t look as sharp as you’re expecting, iPlayer may just be compensating for a weak internet connection.

If you think things should be better, do a speed test and then see if you can speed up your internet via some simple fixes.

If you’ve previously ticked all these options things could be a lot simpler. Just load up iPlayer when a game is on and the UHD option should be highlighted on the homepage.

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If you have a telly that supports Freeview Play then you’ll be able to watch all these Euro 2020 matches for free and in one place.

Some of the games that the BBC have shown in 4K so far include:

  • Turkey v Italy
  • Wales v Switzerland
  • England v Croatia
  • Scotland v Czech Republic
  • Spain v Sweden

Expect the following mat ches to be available too, though this could be subject to change:

  • Spain v Poland
  • Russia v Denmark
  • Portugal v France

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