Live 8K broadcasts are coming to the UK in summer 2020

BT Sport says it will have 8K channels ready for the next season of Premier League action

8K broadcast BT Sport
(Image credit: Future)

Though the image quality of the best 8K TVs is already incredibly tempting, seeing as the new standard offers four times the pixels of 4K TVs, there's one big question that tends to trip up potential buyers: what can you actually watch in 8K?

It's an awkward question because the answer is currently, 'Well, nothing really.' But that's set to change way earlier than we thought, because BT Sport COO Jamie Hindhaugh told TechRadar that the broadcaster is expecting to have the ability to beam 8K to the home ready for "next season", referring to the 2020/2021 Premier League season, which starts on August 8th.

The news came as BT Sport demonstrated its 8K broadcast tech for the first time, during the ill-fated (for Gunners fans) Arsenal vs Olympiakos match on February 27th. The company showed the game live on Samsung 8K TVs, proving that the tech is close to being ready.

BT Sport Ultimate channels will be the home of the 8K games, as well as 4K broadcasts.

Now, obviously things don't always work out as intended, so while BT Sport may be hoping for everything to be in place for the start of the season, it's quite possible that technical issues will push it back.

But it's still reassuring to know that the wheels are turning for 8K TVs to actually make full use of their 33-million-pixel panels. We doubt there will be much more of a flow of 8K beyond this kind of thing for a while, but then we were surprised by how quickly BT is making it happen here, so who knows?

Outside of true 8K broadcasts, the idea with 8K TVs is that they're able to upscale 4K or HD video so well that it's still worth getting the more detailed screens, especially if you're planning to buy a bigger TV. 

Sitting at a normal distance from a 55- or 65-inch TV, 8K's extra detail will be hard to spot, but as you go above that (8K TVs go up to 98 inches), the extra pixels can come into their own.

Though 8K TVs have been available for a while, this is the first year where they'll really compete with 4K screens for price, so maybe BT's news will have you thinking of upgrading to one sooner than you expected.

Matthew Bolton

Matt is T3's former AV and Smart Home Editor (UK), master of all things audiovisual, overseeing our TV, speakers and headphones coverage. He also covered smart home products and large appliances, as well as our toys and games articles. He's can explain both what Dolby Vision IQ is and why the Lego you're building doesn't fit together the way the instructions say, so is truly invaluable. Matt has worked for tech publications for over 10 years, in print and online, including running T3's print magazine and launching its most recent redesign. He's also contributed to a huge number of tech and gaming titles over the years. Say hello if you see him roaming the halls at CES, IFA or Toy Fair. Matt now works for our sister title TechRadar.