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BBC iPlayer to get 4K content online before traditional broadcast TV

The BBC looks set to roll out 4K Ultra HD content on iPlayer, according to the broadcaster’s Head of Technology.

Speaking to Advanced-Television, BBC tech boss Andy King revealed the BBC’s plan to launch a 4K iPlayer service. We already knew that the BBC was working on 4K content – including the upcoming Planet Earth II – but it was originally understood that this would be a broadcast-only offering.

But King is quoted as saying that broadcasting 4K content is “very difficult”, and that the BBC is now hoping to take an “internet first” approach to Ultra HD content:

“What we now need to work on is how we are going to get [these shows] to the viewer. Obviously, as an organisation we are committed to delivery on every platform. But Digital Terrestrial is going to be very difficult.”

He continued: “However, we are very much strategically taking an ‘Internet first’ approach. So we see our first offerings with UHD/HDR, and HDR is very important, to be on the iPlayer platform.”

Watch the Planet Earth II trailer below:

There’s currently a dearth of 4K content available on traditional broadcast media; only select programming is available in the high-resolution format via BT Sport Ultra and Sky Q Silver. But viewers can also make use of Amazon, Netflix, and YouTube, all of which offer an ever-growing roster of 4K media. That’s why it’s no surprise that the BBC is keen to follow suit.

Unfortunately, it’s not exactly clear when the BBC plans to roll out 4K on iPlayer. But with the November 6 premiere of Planet Earth II fast-approaching, there’s a chance that the launch could be very soon.

We’ve asked the BBC for comment and will update this article with any response.

Related: CES 2017

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What BBC TV show would you like to see in 4K? Let us know in the comments.

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