​Sky Deutschland Goes UHD with Rohde & Schwarz

Pay TV provider Sky Deutschland is using signal processing solutions from Rohde & Schwarz to air live programming in UHD. Rohde & Schwarz and system integrator Qvest Media planned and implemented the project.

The first material the pay TV provider chose for live UHD was premium soccer. Since mid-October select Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League games have been broadcast on Sky Sport Bundesliga UHD and Sky Sport UHD.

Sky based the entire production chain on UHD, from ingest and storage to playout and headend. This workflow includes three R&S Venice 4K servers that are used to provide channels for playout and to record the live program. Immediately after recording, the program can be played out as a repeat or used in a compilation for program planning to optimize broadcasting.

"The solutions from Rohde & Schwarz help us to offer our customers the best program in the best possible quality. Plus, the Venice 4K enables us to optimize our workflows: it records a UHD signal as a complete native file, so we no longer have to merge quadrants via external systems and therefore also save time," explains Christian Barth, Head of Strategy & Architecture / Broadcast Services at Sky Deutschland, explaining the advantages of the ingest and playout platform.

The R&S SpycerBox Ultra TL is used for storage. And the R&S Clipster mastering system prepares the film material for broadcasting. The complex interoperable master format (IMF) in which the large production studios deliver material is converted by the R&S Clipster into a customized Sky IMF version.

Broadcasting the UHD picture signals to viewers via the existing infrastructure requires strong data compression based on HEVC technology that does not impair picture quality. Sky procured the HEVC encoder from the Munich-based R&S group. In comparison with other manufacturers' products currently on the market, the R&S AVHE100 encoding and multiplexing platform clearly provided the best picture quality, even at reduced data rate, said the vendor. Besides the systems themselves, the order also includes a two-year maintenance contract.

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