The production formats used by sports broadcasters could see a strong shift in format preference three years from now, from 1080i and 720p to 3G/1080p and 4K, according to a new study.
The report, “Sports production at the crossroads”, commissioned by Miranda suggests that a third of broadcasters and suppliers building a facility or production truck three years from now would do so for Ultra HD.
The study found the most frequently used production format today to be 1080i, with a majority (54.4%) of sports production professionals reporting that they use this format “most often” for their work. The next most frequently selected formats were 720p and SD, which tied for second, each with 18.1% of respondents.
In interviews conducted for the study with sports production gurus, some expressed surprise at the low counts for 720p, especially with two of the most prolific producers of sports programming, ESPN and Fox, standardizing their operations on it. But among other cable networks, and especially among broadcasters, the use of 1080i for sports dominated. Others expressed surprise at how much SD TV equipment is still in use. But the survey found many organisations repurposing their older SD equipment for streaming applications.
Only 7% of current respondents report shooting on 3G most often, and only 1% for 4K. But when the same sports professionals were asked what format they would anticipate building a facility or production truck with three years from now, 3G was the top choice with 33.5% of respondents; 4K was not far behind in second place at 28.6%.
In interviews, proponents of 3G cited practical reasons for their choice. A 3G production truck could handle any live format from 3G down, while there is no current 4K transmission standard. 4K advocates cautioned the wisdom of betting against progress, and expressed optimism that business models could be worked out, especially with premium services.
By Adrian Pennington