Women’s World Cup 2015: Testing ground for the next generation of television

Women playing soccer at the FIFA women's world cup 2021.


With the U.S. team now heading to the Women’s World Cup final, many of us will be transfixed by the TV broadcast on Sunday. And some fans in New York and L.A. will even get to view the match in 8K Super Hi-Vision.

“We’re proud to work with FIFA and NHK to provide an opportunity to watch the next generation of television as the U.S. Women’s National Team plays in Women’s World Cup,” said FOX Sports’ Head of Business Operations, David Nathanson. “8K images have incredible clarity, and for those watching these matches it will be the next best thing to being at the games in-person.

Japanese Company NHK has been developing 8K since 1995, including everything from cameras and mics to broadcast systems and receivers. And the Women’s World Cup in Canada is one of its first large-scale testing grounds. NHK plans to continue the experiment at next year’s Super Bowl and Summer Olympics in preparation for full broadcast of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

But, with a nearly 16 times sharper image than HD, even the demo at the World Cup is adding a lot to what is already an enormous broadcasting effort by Fox Sports. This year also marks the first time every Women’s World Cup match will air live in the U.S., including over 200 hours of programming.

It’s taking a crew of over 500 people and a huge amount of connectivity to pull it off. “The two facilities in Jack Poole Plaza and the IBCC are being connected by 15 HD-SDI paths each way for a total of 30,” said Kevin Callahan, director of World Cup technical operations at Fox Sports in a recent article. “We have six 1Gbps Ethernet drops between the two locations and one 10Gbps Ethernet drop between the two locations.

For later broadcasting and storage, files will need to move over those pipes as well, and 8K footage adds a surprising amount of bulk. On average for 90 minutes of raw uncompressed footage, what was already 1200GB in HD jumps to 17000GB in 8K. But Fox Sports is equipped with the next generation file transfer software needed to transfer huge files.

It’ll be fascinating to see the game unfold on Sunday, even if we don’t get to see it in 8k just yet.

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