New Sky Deutschland UHD services employs Rohde & Schwarz solutions

Pay TV provider Sky Deutschland is now broadcasting premium programmes in UHD as additional content. In mid-October 2016, the pay TV provider went on air with live broadcasts of matches in the UEFA Champions League and the German Bundesliga.

From ingest and storage to playout and headend, Rohde & Schwarz signal processing solutions are being used. Rohde & Schwarz and systems integrator Qvest Media planned and implemented the project.

For this project, 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[mes] in the best possible quality. Plus, the R&S 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,” says 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, whilst 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 customised 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. After a rigorous selection process, Sky procured the HEVC encoder from the Munich-based Rohde & Schwarz 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. Besides the systems themselves, the order also includes a two-year maintenance contract.

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