Garland and NTT working with Sky Sports to enable HEVC UHD coverage

UK digital video solutions provider Garland has announced that Sky Sports has chosen NTT contribution encoders and decoders as part of Sky’s bid to be the first-to-market with end-to-end HEVC UHD delivery on its sports platform.

Sky Sports, who is noted for its commitment to the quality of its sports coverage, was looking for ways to acquire its Premier League football and Formula 1 video coverage more efficiently, while further improving video quality, saving on bandwidth, and optimising power and space in its workflow.

“Sports viewers are among the most discerning when it comes to the quality of video,” says Gordon Roxburgh, Technical Manager at Sky. “We want to continue to be the leader in providing this audience with the highest calibre coverage. Garland was able to provide us with a solution that not only improves the quality, but is more efficient.”

“We knew the answer was in the latest NTT line of UHD solutions,” says Malcolm Harland, Managing Director for Garland. “Specifically, Sky deployed encoders and decoders from NTT’s HC11000 and HC10000 ranges. This setup allows Sky to make use of products that support HEVC UHD encoding and decoding over IP.”

HEVC UHD video compression capabilities are an evolution from H.264, the latter requiring the use of multiple encoders. Using HEVC instead of H.264 enables Sky to decide whether to improve quality or reduce expensive satellite bandwidth costs, whilst also saving on rack space.

SKY is using the NTT encoders and decoders in their three primary UHD contribution vehicles supporting Premier League football on Sky Q, its latest set-top box offering in UHD. Sky is also using the NTT platforms for primary contribution of its coverage of the 20 Grand Prix in 2017 — which started in Australia on 26 March and ends in Abu Dhabi on 26 November.

The latest version of NTT’s UHD products can deliver up to 160Mbps transport stream, with 120 milliseconds of end-to-end delay, and support Dolby E pass through (SMPTE-302M). The same box also supports H.264 encoding, as well as HD and SD resolutions for even greater flexibility.  And it can do all this while also supporting simultaneous IP and DVB-ASI outputs.

“We’ve worked closely with Sky on several other major initiatives,” states Malcolm. “It’s exciting to watch as NTT is able to take them over the finish line in Sky’s quest to be the first to acquire live  UHD F1™ race-day coverage over IP.”

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