BT unveiled BT Sport Ultra HD and a new 4K set-top box at its big budget launch event. Naturally, we couldn’t wait to take a look.
Not only is BT Sport Ultra HD another new BT TV channel, this makes BT the first UK broadcaster to announce a 4K Ultra HD product. That’s something of a milestone in British TV history.
BT Sport Ultra HD launches in August 2015, just in time for the next Premier League season. Here’s everything you need to know about BT Sport Ultra HD; how much it costs, what kind of Internet service you’ll need to stream it and what kind of 4K TVs work with it.
How much is BT Sport Ultra HD?
BT Sport Ultra HD comes with the BT Ultra HD Entertainment pack, which costs £15/month.
In addition to this, you’ll need to take a BT Infinity broadband service.
BT Infinity service uses FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) technology, so your local exchange will need to be enabled for that and your home will need to be connected to a green street cabinet that’s had a dirty great ‘Fibre Broadband’ sticker slapped acrossd the side.
BT Infinity packages start at £9.75/month plus line rental for BT Infinity 1 (up to 38Mbps, 20GB download cap). You can get BT Infinity 1 with unlimited downloads for £23/month plus line rental.
The faster up to 76Mbps BT Infinity 2 package starts at £30/month plus line rental and comes with unlimited downloads as well as weekend calls to UK landlines.
Line rental is charged at £16.99/month at the standard rate. Alternatively, you can pay £183.40 for 12 months line rental cover up front, which is equivalent to paying £15.28/month.
There’s a one off connection fee of £44 for the BT Sport Ultra HD service and a £6.95 delivery charge for the optional BT Home Hub wireless routers. The Humax DTR-T4000 set-top box itself doesn’t cost anything extra. Here’s a quick table detailing all of those costs:
|BT Infinity 1 (20GB)||Unlimited BT Infinity 1||Unlimited BT Infinity 2|
|BT Ultra HD Entertainment pack||£15/month||£15/month||£15/month|
|Standard line rental||£16.99/month||£16.99/month||£16.99/month|
|One off charge||£50.95||£50.95||£50.95|
|Total Monthly Cost||£41.74/month||£54.99/month||£61.99/month|
What minimum download speed do I need to get BT Sport Ultra HD?
BT spokespeople tell us that your Infinity line will need to be able to deliver 44Mbps of spare bandwidth in order for you to be able to get BT Sport Ultra HD.
Somewhat confusingly, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need to get a download speed of at least 44Mbps from a BT Infinity line.
Because traffic for the BT Sport streaming channels is partitioned from your main Internet service, even if you sign up for a BT Infinity 1 service that on paper gives you a top speed of 38Mbps, you could still get BT Sport Ultra HD.
Similarly, if you’re watching a live game in 4K on BT TV, it won’t affect other people at home. You can get on with watching the latest ludicrous display from ‘The’ Arsenal while everyone else can watch Twitch channels and stream Orange Is The New Black in other rooms.
At the BT Sport Ultra HD launch event, David Kelly, BT’s general manager of product for BT Sport, told us: “With this, quality is our top priority. The service has been designed so that customers will still be able to do things like browse the web on an iPad or laptop while others watch 4K TV.”
BT Sport Ultra HD also won’t eat into any capped data plans – which is probably just as well. You probably wouldn’t be able to get through the first half of a game otherwise.
That said, not every Infinity connection out that will be able to support BT Sport Ultra HD. Kelly said that more than 80 per cent of people who can currently a BT Infinity service – whether that gives you download speeds of 44Mbps and higher or not – should be able to get BT Sport Ultra HD.
One way or another, BT will tell you whether you’re capable of getting BT Sport Ultra HD or not.
What can I watch on BT Sport Ultra HD?
First of all, what are we going to be able to watch on BT Sport Ultra HD? If you’re hoping for every single Premier League game and Champions League match to be shot in Ultra HD, you’re out of luck.
BT currently has one OB (Outside Broadcast) truck for 4K broadcasting. This rig can support up to 16 cameras at any one time and will initially be used to capture live action on a weekly basis.
It’s expected that BT will focus on high profile events like top flight Premier League games and UEFA fixtures like Manchester United’s Champions League playoff.
BT will assess things like expected customer demand, with a view to covering a bit of everything – FA Cup games, Premier League, Champions League and everything in between.
Here’s what we do kow will be available to watch in 4K in August:
- Arsenal vs Chelsea, FA Community Shield Sunday, August 2
- Manchester United vs Tottenham, Barclays Premier League Saturday, August 8
- Southampton vs Everton, Barclays Premier League Saturday, August 15
- Manchester United vs Newcastle, Barclays Premier League Saturday, August 22
- British GP, MotoGP Saturday, August 29 and Sunday, August 30
What kind of 4K TV will I need to watch BT Sport Ultra HD?
All 4K Ultra HD TV’s manufactured this year, including (but not limited to) models from LG, Samsung, Sony and Panasonic will work with BT Sport Ultra HD.
BT spokespeople said that there is a ‘very small’ number of Ultra HD TV’s made in early 2014 which won’t be compatible.
At the launch event, Kelly told us that Humax DTR-T4000 box plays service plays 4K media at 50fps and supports 10 bit colour depth per pixel. You’ll need a TV with an HDMI port capable of handling that frame rate. Anything older than HDMI 2.0 won’t suffice.
We asked Kelly if the box would support HDR (High Dynamic Range) in the future – because it won’t from launch. Kelly told us that BT is investigating a number of options and hopes that support for HDR can be added with a firmware update, but didn’t rule out a hardware-based solution.
- A 4K Ultra HD TV, ideally one made in 2015
- A 4K TV with an HDMI 2.0 port (or later)
What are the specs of the Humax DTR-T4000?
Al full spec list has yet to be released, but in essence, the Humax DTR-T4000 is a YouView+ box with a 1TB hard drive.
This gives you streamlined access to catch-up services including BBC iPlayer, All 4, ITV Player, Demand 5, UKTV Play (Dave, Really, Yesterday) Quest OD, Connected Red Button and Netflix.
Can you record 4K Ultra HD content on the Humax DTR-T4000?
Yes. You can record up to 600 hours of SD TV, 250 hours of HD TV and 60 hours of Ultra HD TV.
Can you watch 4K Ultra HD Netflix through the Humax DTR-T4000?
Not from launch, but BT spokespeople have confirmed that you’ll eventually be able to stream House of Cards, Breaking Bad and the rest in 4K through the Humax DTR-T4000.
Presumably, if your BT Infinity line is good enough to get BT Sport Ultra HD, you’ll at least be able to stream 4K Netflix through a smart TV app.
My line can’t support BT Sport Ultra HD. What are my options?
If you’re living or working at one of the 22 million (and counting) premises that can currently get BT Infinity, but you’ve been told that that you can’t get it, your options right now are limited.
There’s no way to stream live games through the BT Sport web player, even if you’ve got enough bandwidth.
The technical limitations of FTTC mean that like ADSL, where your download speed is determined by your proximity to an exchange, the actual bandwidth you end up getting is influenced by the length of that copper ‘last mile’ – in other words, the distance between your house and those green street cabinets.
Because of this limitation, you might not be able to order BT Sport Ultra HD when it launches, even if you can get BT Infinity.
Kelly said that he expects 4K TVs to be the norm by 2018 – by which time superfast and ultrafast services should be more widely available.
Will I be able to watch BT Sport Ultra HD in my local pub?
If broadband speeds at home aren’t up to scratch, what about watching the game in the local boozer? Again, tough luck. Publicans won’t be able to sign up for BT’s 4K service, at least not initially.
While this won’t always be the case, but from Day 1, BT Sport Ultra HD will exclusively be for folks with fancy 4K tellies in their front rooms.
That’s all the information we have on BT Sport Ultra HD at the moment. We’ll update with more news as and when we hear it.