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Europe’s first free-to-air 4K Ultra HD channel is a shopping channel

This September, 4K TV owners will be able to watch into pearl.tv, which is set to be Europe’s first free to air 4K Ultra HD TV channel. 

The channel, essentially Germany’s equivalent of QVC, will be available to stream on 4K TVs in the UK and everywhere else and on satellite in Germany. 

While it doesn’t really give 4K TV owners over here much to get excited about, it is something of a milestone in broadcasting history – which means it’ll help pave the way for the delivery of more exciting content. 

SES Platform Services will handle both the satellite channel and the online stream. Sophie Lersch, chief product officer for services at SES said: “UHD places specific demands on workflows in the content management, playout and encoding sectors, an area in which we’ve gained a lot of know-how over the past few years. 

Related: Sky Sports 4K Ultra HD demo: First impressions“As a result, we can now offer all services that broadcasters and content providers need in order to market and distribute their content in UHD – linear or on-demand, and via satellite or the internet.”

SES operate the Astra 28.2°E group of satellites which handle transmissions for Sky and Freesat here in the UK. The pearl.tv channel will be broadcast from the Astra 19.2°E group, which handles the German HD+ free-to-air service. 

As well as reviews of products in German, British 4K telly owners will from August onwards be able to sign up for BT Sport Ultra HD, which promises to broadcast a selection of Premier League and Champions League games in 4K. 

Pricing details for BT’s new sports service aren’t yet available but it’s understood that you’ll need to be able to order a BT Infinity FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) service. While superfast broadband is available to roughly three quarters of the population, Infinity won’t be available everywhere. 

It is expected, given that bandwidth for 4K Ultra HD streams generally require at least 20-25Mbps, you’d need to order the faster Infinity 2 service, which promises up to 76Mbps, instead of the slower up to 38Mbps Infinity 1 package. 

Because the top download speed you’ll get from an Infinity service is ultimately dictated by the distance between your house and the cabinet, it’s likley that you’ll be required to take the higher bandwidth Infinity 2 package. 

BT will launch BT Sport Ultra HD on August 2, kicking off with live coverage of the Community Shield Chelsea vs Arsenal game at Wembley. 

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