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Euro 2016 in 4K? BBC and ITV let the UK down

OPINION UEFA is shooting eight Euro 2016 in 4K, but we won’t be able to see any of them. Evan Kypreos thinks we should have come further by now.

Euro 2016 is almost upon us and I’m buzzing with excitement. I can’t wait to jump in joy and, more likely, wallow in agony while I watch yet another tense penalty shootout through a lattice of fingers.

There will be disappointment, I’ve come to expect that during major football finals, I just wasn’t expecting to be disappointed before an England player had even kicked a ball.

And yet I am.

I recently bought a stunning LG 4K OLED TV and was planning to enjoy all the matches in pin-sharp Ultra HD. Then I found out that UEFA will only be recording eight matches in Ultra HD – every match from the quarter finals onwards as well as the opener.

But neither the BBC nor ITV, who are sharing coverage of Euro 2016 in the UK, will be broadcasting in 4K.

England are sure to get through the group stage, right? Right?! That should mean at least one match where UEFA lets me take full advantage of all those extra pixels and glimpse the fear in the eyes of defenders as Vardy speeds towards them, or check out how good a job Harvey Street really did on Rooney’s hair plugs.

Not for us in Blighty, though.

There are technical challenges, certainly. Whether over air or via internet streaming, 4K video requires specialised equipment capable of handling it from both broadcasters and those viewing at home. While we can stream UHD content from Netflix and Amazon Prime with a decent 4K smart TV, streaming a live sporting event requires huge amounts of bandwidth.

Netflix and Amazon have the luxury of time to compress episodes and movies, meaning they can make them as efficient as possible without affecting quality too much. It’s a lot more difficult to do all of that encoding on the fly even with clever new codecs.

Related: What is 4K TV and Ultra HD?

That’s giving them an easy ride, though. Two years have passed since the Beeb tested 4K streaming for some Rio 2014 matches and in that time millions of UHD TVs have been sold in the UK. Millions of homes are now ready to watch the Euros in their full glory, but they can’t.

What’s more galling is that plenty of other countries will be enjoying 4K broadcasts, some for free.

In Italy, Eutelsat and Rai have teamed up to broadcast seven matches in UHD, while Switzerland, Portugal and Qatar will enjoy blur-free, 4K games.

If you’re really desperate you can set up a satellite dish to take advantage of a broadcast in other country and you still have a few days to learn Italian so you can understand Italy’s version of Gary Lineker explain how Hodgson’s team selection was all wrong – “Egli avrebbe dovuto prendere Danny Drinkwater”.

The rest of us will have to live with poor and paltry high definition and try to look on the bright side – hey at least we’re getting 5.1 surround sound with it…

Related: Best TV 2016

It doesn’t matter if you support England, Wales or Northern Ireland – the UK deserves better.

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