How to watch the World Cup in 4K HDR: your complete guide

Get the best possible picture for your World Cup 2018 experience

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It’s official, the World Cup 2018 will be recorded in the highest quality ever. That means watching the games at home on the big screen can finally be almost as good as the real thing. If you take into account stadium toilet queues and snack prices, watching at home might be even better.

FIFA has announced that the World Cup 2018 will be recorded and distributed in 4K UHD and HDR quality. All 64 matches will be shot with 37 cameras – eight with UHD and HDR plus eight with 1080p and HDR. There will also be eight additional slow motion cameras, a cable-cam and cineflex helicam. All that will mean the maximum amount of choice for broadcasters when airing the games.

The problem comes right there, with the broadcasters. The UK will have the World Cup games shown on ITV and BBC, who share the rights to various games. ITV has never shown any interest in 4K UHD or HDR. Thankfully good old aunty Beeb has.

Watch the World Cup 2018 4K and HDR on BBC

(Image: © Hisense)

The BBC has already begun rolling out 4K UHD and HDR content, although for the latter part it uses its own format called HLG. This is a version of HDR developed specifically for better broadcasting potential. To us consumers it means a better range of contrast and eye-popping colours.

The BBC iPlayer is already sharing this high-quality content with Blue Planet II in 4K and HLG. But this is a pre-recorded show – airing a live sports match is a little different, but that's what the Beeb is going to do for World Cup 2018.

As you'd imagine, this is not straightforward, but fear not as we have assembled a handy guide to what is required to stream World Cup games in 4K from the BBC.

Watch the World Cup 2018 4K and HDR by upscaling

World Cup TV

(Image: © Samsung)

Even if the BBC and ITV let us down and are unable to broadcast the World Cup 2018 matches in 4K and HDR, many TVs will still help out.

More modern 4K and HDR TVs are able to upscale the source of the picture to offer the best possible quality that the TV can output, despite a less than perfect source.

So even with a 1080p Full HD feed, minus HDR, as is the current setup for HD TV from BBC and ITV, many TVs can enhance that picture. 

One TV that will offer upscaling smarts and HLG support, should BBC end up airing the games in high-quality, is the 65-inch Samsung UE65NU8500 Curved Smart 4K HDR TV which, at £2,199, packs in Samsung’s latest imaging smarts as well.

What is 4K upscaling and how does it work?

World Cup TV

(Image: © Samsung)

TV’s from the likes of Samsung, LG, Sony, Panasonic and more have 4K upscaling smarts built in. This means that can take a 1080p Full HD feed and make it work on the higher resolution 4K display.

4K TVs have about eight million pixels while HD TVs top out at nearer two million. That gap means there is more space to fill on a higher resolution screen using an inferior quality feed. So the smart TV will essentially fill in the gaps using pixels that it thinks should be there to top up those two million to eight million.

Imagine stretching a picture out by every pixel, you’d still recognise the image only with lots of white space dotted about. As such you could probably see which colour needs to be extended to meet the next pixel. That’s essentially what the TV does.

So, while native 4K can have more detail, an upscaled 4K image will give you a large and pixelation free picture only with less detail. The upscaler also does smart things like applying contrast and sharpening in the right amounts to get the best end result.

All that means that if you opt for a more expensive TV brand, with more experience working on the software side of things, you’ll get a better upscaled picture result.

So the high-end Sony, as an image manipulation expert with its photography and TV branches, like the KD55XF8096BU, at £1,199 should give you a great finished picture of the match no matter that the feed.

Or go for an OLED for super smooth results with the likes of the LG OLED55B7V at £1,499.

This article is brought to you in association with AO.com, which is currently offering up to £300 cashback when you buy a large screen TV.