Is BBC iPlayer showing Euro 2024 in 4K HDR?

Strange broadcast decisions might spoil your enjoyment of the action

Jude Bellingham at Euro 2024
(Image credit: Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images)

The Euro 2024 football tournament is well underway, with the last-16 round coming up fast, but there's a question I've been asked more than any other – and it's nothing to do with what's happening on the pitch.

Family members, friends and T3 readers in the UK have wanted to know whether they can watch the live coverage of the Euros in 4K HDR. And the basic answer is that they can't.

Sadly, even though we've had successful trials of major tournament broadcasts in Ultra HD before, there are no games being shown in 4K at all. Not even on BBC iPlayer, which is more than capable of the format.

That includes the semis and final, which have traditionally been given a boost in other tournaments.

Perhaps stranger still is that you can watch the Beeb's live matches in HDR, which uses the HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) standard supported by many modern TVs. So, colour representation is better when streamed via iPlayer than over terrestrial platforms, but not resolution.

This will likely baffle many. After all, Sky Sports and TNT Sports regularly broadcast Premier League matches in 4K HDR and Euro 2024 is a bigger deal. But there's actually a simple reason – cash!

Why are the Euros not in Ultra HD?

The decision to stick with 1080p as the maximum resolution was made by UEFA itself. Forbes claims that the governing body for European football has opted to restrict the broadcast format as a "cost-cutting measure".

While it's possible that all of this summer's 51 matches could be filmed and streamed in 4K HDR, it has been deemed prohibitively expensive – especially when viewers are getting the coverage for free.

Most global broadcasters that show matches in UHD either take the extra costs on the chin or charge their customers for the privilege. Both Sky and TNT Sports fall in the latter category.

In addition, some countries don't have the capabilities to broadcast live 4K HDR content. Indeed, of the main terrestrial broadcasters in the UK, only the BBC offers some UHD content.

It shares the rights to Euro 2024 with ITV and that means around half the matches wouldn't be shown in the format anyway. We don't even get the HDR stream on ITVX.

So, it's a hefty sum to commit to for UEFA, when a large number of its broadcast partners can't even take the feed. And ultimately, if it can't recoup the expense through broadcast rights, it's hard to justify the extra expense.

Even if it leaves most of our TVs and streaming devices in the UK underutilised.

At least Wimbledon will be in full-fat 4K HDR on BBC iPlayer from 1 July. We've got that to look forward to, so it's not all bad news.

Rik Henderson
News Editor

Rik is T3’s news editor, which means he looks after the news team and the up-to-the-minute coverage of all the hottest gadgets and products you’ll definitely want to read about. And, with more than 35 years of experience in tech and entertainment journalism, including editing and writing for numerous websites, magazines, and newspapers, he’s always got an eye on the next big thing.

Rik also has extensive knowledge of AV, TV streaming and smart home kit, plus just about everything to do with games since the late 80s. Prior to T3, he spent 13 years at Pocket-lint heading up its news team, and was a TV producer and presenter on such shows as Channel 4's GamesMaster, plus Sky's Games World, Game Over, and Virtual World of Sport.