Soccer now even clearer at Sky Deutschland: two UHD channels go into operation with Rohde & Schwarz solutions


Pay TV provider Sky Deutschland broadcasts premium programs 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 Bundesliga, Germany's professional soccer league. From ingest and storage to playout and headend, Rohde & Schwarz signal processing solutions are used. Rohde & Schwarz and system integrator Qvest Media planned and implemented the project.

Sky Deutschland is now also broadcasting some of its premium programs live in UHD. To attract audiences, the first material the pay TV provider chose for this format – besides fictional UltraHD content on demand – is live soccer games. Since mid-October selected Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League games have been broadcast on Sky Sport Bundesliga UHD and Sky Sport UHD.

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 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. And 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 customized 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.

Rohde & Schwarz
The Rohde & Schwarz electronics group is a leading supplier of solutions in the fields of test and measurement, broadcasting, secure communications, and radiomonitoring and radiolocation. Founded 80 years ago, this independent global company has an extensive sales network and is present in more than 70 countries. It has around 9300 employees and achieved a net revenue of EUR 1.9 billion (USD 2.5 billion) in fiscal year 2012/2013 (July 2012 through June 2013). The company is headquartered in Munich, Germany. R&S ® is a registered trademark of Rohde & Schwarz GmbH & Co. KG

About Sky Deutschland
With over 4.6 million customers and annual revenues of EUR 2 billion, Sky is the pay TV market leader in Germany and Austria. The program offering at Sky includes live sports, films, series, children's programs and documentaries. Sky Deutschland with its headquarters in Unterfoehring near Munich is part of Sky plc, Europe's leading entertainment group. 21.9 million customers in five countries watch the exclusive Sky programs whenever and wherever they want (status: September 30, 2016).