LG gears up for high frame rate 4K sports broadcasts

HDR video and next-generation audio are part of the new standard as well.

Reuters Staff / Reuters

A few years ago, high frame-rate was a big talking point for movies. Director Peter Jackson bet big on it with his version of The Hobbit, but since then interest has died down mostly due to audience pushback against the unnaturally clear images it presents. While HFR might not work best with film, there's the chance that it'd be a good fit for broadcast TV and sports -- formats where we're already used to watching faster frame-rates. At least that's what LG is hoping for. The electronics company has partnered with satellite operator SES to demo 4K HFR broadcasts this week in Luxembourg.

The tech leapfrogs current broadcast standards by bumping frame rates up to 120 FPS, doubling (or, in Europe, more than doubling) the current 50-to-60 frames per-second limit of traditional broadcasts. For reference, shows like Breaking Bad and True Detective were shot at the cinematic 24 frames per-second, while the evening news and late-night talk favor 30 frames per-second for a clearer, more "real-looking" image.

HFR would amp that up considerably as a way to sidestep video artifacts like motion blur and judder in programming where the onscreen action is fast and copious. Specifically, with UHD sports broadcasts. This is just a limited demo, so expecting to watch the next baseball or football (soccer) match at a native 120 FPS in 4K might be a little premature.

More than that, it's only being shown off on LG OLED displays at the moment. And even then, at a trade show and not as part of a pilot broadcast or anything so maybe don't hold your breath on this taking hold industry-wide anytime soon.

But wait, there's more. Buried deeper in the press release is word that LG and a host of other display OEMs, broadcasters and networks are prepping for high dynamic range video, Next-generation Audio (think: Dolby Atmos) to be baked into broadcast standards alongside HFR.

Given that we've seen sports lead the way for UHD broadcasts, this new standard probably can't get here fast enough.