The TV sets of the Dutch have changed a lot since the last major tournament where the Dutch national team was active. While full HD televisions were the standard in 2014, almost half of Dutch people now have a 4K television at home.
The screens are also a quarter larger than in the previous tournament, according to figures from market researcher GFK.
However, many owners of a 4K device will ‘just’ watch the tournament in the lower full HD quality. Although the European Championship is broadcast in 4K resolution at the NPO, the public broadcaster expects the sharper signal to only reach about 500,000 to 1 million households.
There are quite a few barriers that TV viewers have to cross to see the football tournament in the highest quality. For example, the TV provider must pass on the 4K signal. That is certainly the case with KPN, Vodafone-Ziggo and Canal Digitaal and with smaller local players: TriNed, SK Veendam, SK Pijnacker, Kabeltex, Breedband Helmond, Open Fiber and Jonaz.
T-Mobile Thuis and Youfone are not participating and NLZiet and NPO Plus also do not transmit a 4K image. NLZiet did not get it technically in time, T-Mobile says that its decoders are not suitable for the technology.
More expensive subscription
A subscription with a provider that does transmit the signal is not yet a guarantee to watch the European Championship in 4K. For example, customers of KPN and VodafoneZiggo must have a decoder that can process the 4K channel and that is only offered with the more expensive subscriptions. Customers with a complete subscription or start subscription must increase their subscription to be able to see images in 4K.
Viewers must also have good cabling at home, as mentioned a 4K TV and then, if they are tuned to the NPO 1 UHD channel, they can watch football in an image quality that is four times sharper than HD TV.
According to Raymond van de Vliet, Director of Content & Programming at VodafoneZiggo, the step from full-HD to 4K is technically complicated. “The step from SD to HD was arranged within a few years. The investments for that were much easier. The step to 4K is much more expensive. The TV productions, the broadcasting streets at the broadcasters, the bandwidth in the ground, the hardware, there must all be invested in.
Although 44 percent of households now have a 4K television, there is not much to see in the highest quality on those screens after the European Championship. For example, the Olympic Games are not broadcast in 4K quality. “We are first doing this experiment with the European Championship,” says a spokesperson for the NPO. “After that we will evaluate and see what the next most suitable moment is for an experiment.”
At KPN and Vodafone-Ziggo, a handful of channels are transmitted in 4K, such as nature channel Love Nature and Formula 1. “We notice that the need is growing, because the number of TVs is growing,” says Raymond van de Vliet of VodafoneZiggo. “It will grow in the coming years, especially with live events. In the end we will make the steps, but the speed in which we must all determine the speed.”
Movies and series are offered in 4K quality via various streaming services. Usually you have to pay more for it than for HD image.