Is 3D or Ultra HD the future of F1 broadcasting?

Debates and pollsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Start, Circuit of the Americas, 2012Sky broke new ground yesterday by offering the first ever live F1 broadcast in 3D, of the F1 test session at the Circuit de Catalunya.

F1’s adoption of high definition broadcasts took a long time to arrive. For several years, fans asked when F1 would go HD, only to be disappointed.

Is there a similar appetite developing for F1 coverage in 3D? Or is the next stage in high definition coverage the real future of F1 broadcasting?


Digital 3D films have been on show in cinemas for several years. And there are subscription television services, such as Sky in the UK, which offer 3D broadcasts.

But the technology has struggled to win mainstream popularity. Sales of 3D television sets have disappointed as consumers have been unimpressed by the picture quality and by the need to wear special glasses to view it.

I had a chance to watch some of Sky’s footage today. While the 3D worked well for close-ups of cars in the pit lane and some other angles, it added less to shots of the cars in motion.

Ultra HD

The next step in high definition broadcasts is Ultra HD. While 1080p HD – the current standard – provides a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, the Ultra HD format defined in October promises resolutions from 3,840 x 2,160 (4K) to 7,680 ? 4,320 (8K).

These will offer vastly more detailed, colourful and realistic images. But the technology is still in its early stages: the first Ultra HD television sets have price tags which look like they belong on cars and finding the bandwidth to supply the vast amount of data needed is a major challenge.

However Ultra HD is making its first steps towards the living rooms of the world. Japan has revealed plans to broadcast some of the 2014 World Cup, which takes place in Brazil, in 4K resolution via satellite.

Over to you

One technology is available now, the other is some way off. But which broadcasting format are you most interested in for Formula One coverage?

Have you watched any of the current F1 test broadcasts in 3D? Is there any need to improve on current HD broadcasts?

Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Which broadcasting technology are you most interested in for F1?

  • 3D (5%)
  • Ultra HD (79%)
  • Neither (17%)

Total Voters: 230

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90 comments on “Is 3D or Ultra HD the future of F1 broadcasting?”

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  1. 3D is nothing more then a gimmick that has been popping it’s ugly head up every few years since the late 1800s & it still hasn’t caught on because of various reasons (#1 being the fact that you usually have to wear stupid glasses).

    4K is the future but just like the switch to the current HD format it’s going to take a good 10 years or so til it’s fully saturated the mass market. The PS5 & Xbox4 that come out in about 8 years will probaly offer native 4K support and that is around the time that most of the mass market will be able to afford a decent size 4K display.

  2. Ultra HD in reality is probably 10 years away. Why? Because FullHD resolution fulfills almost all the needs. Most households think that 50-60″ TV is too big. But FullHD resolution is more than enough for that size TV considering average viewing distance. So there is no need for UltraHD. Todays movie and commercial production is closer to FullHD than to UltraHD. And at the moment there isn’t even UltraHD capable video player. Even SONY for its UltraHD screen presentation had to use PC computer with special graphics card – cause you don’t have better solution. Today there are couple of UltraHD capable screens and cameras. You need A LOT of technology for live TV broadcast that is UltraHD capable – cameras, mixers, recording and playback (EVS), video monitors, uplinks-downlinks etc. I can’t see where’s the economical reasoning to pay for all this?! Most local TV channels in the world are still in Standard Definition!

    3D is dead again, for 3rd or 4th or 5th time already. It won’t be widley used because it adds too little to the viewing experience, but producing 3D is quite a lot more difficult and expensive! Yes, there was a time (Avatar etc) when people were willing to pay few extra Euros to see a movie in 3D, but even that has ended now.

    The real question for F1 is – when can we view it officially online – pay per view/race or buy season ticket to watch all the races online. 720p HD would be great, FullHD even not needed. 3D and UltraHD is not a topic for this or couple of next years.

    1. The real question for F1 is – when can we view it officially online – pay per view/race or buy season ticket to watch all the races online.

      When the broadcasters stop paying for exclusive contracts.

      With the contracts as they are, Even if FOM ran a live streaming service online it would be blocked in the UK as Sky/BBC have an exclusive deal preventing F1 been available from anyone but them in the UK. Most, If not all broadcasters world-wide have this sort of clause.
      Same with archive races, Broadcasters pay FOM for that footage so don’t like it been available elsewhere as that makes them paying for archive material pointless.

      The series which run online streaming tend to be those who either don’t have the exposure F1 does so needs to find ways of getting extra viewers or because there actually paying the broadcasters to show there races.

  3. I think that Ultra HD is the natural evolution. It seems to be quite far, though. It’s an expensive technology and the fact that you should have at least a 50″ TV to see the difference can’t be overlooked. It will take time, but I’m sure it will become popular.

    3D is probably not going to make it (again). I don’t know how it works in the UK, but here in Italy you have to pay 5 €/month if you want to have 3D. I have a 3D TV and I think it’s not worth it. I’ve watched some movies and I’ve played some games in 3D and I think it does not add a lot to the overall experience. It looks cool, especially in games, but do I want to pay more and wear two pair of glasses while I watch F1? No, I don’t.

    Besides, glasses are not a big deal in movies and games, but when I watch F1 I usually have a smartphone to check twitter or a laptop to follow the session live on this site and the live timing on the official website. It’s impossible to do all these things properly with 3D glasses.

  4. While I don’t think that UHD is needed, really, I think it is the only route forward. 3D might be good for some shots, but it can be horrible in the next. But more importantly you cannot casually watch 3D tv while cooking, or writing an essay for school. Whatever. You have to sit down watch it square in front of the TV with those stupid glasses and everything and watch the whole thing. And for people who usually wear glasses it makes even less sense.
    3D is for the cinema where people go, watch a movie, and then go home. It works there. But I just don’t see that it will work properly at home. Especially not for live TV. Couple that with the gigantic establishment costs of broadcasting in 3D, then no. Don’t do it.
    UHD isn’t something that I think they should put much effort into either. Just wait until the UHD filming equipment has become more of a normality and that UHD tv’s are a common thing it homes across the world. It would be nice to have, but I don’t see the need to make any real push for it. It will arrive at some point.

  5. It’s a bit weird, isn’t it? My opinion is that is you want a realistic image, then just go to a race: it probably costs less than a Supra Digital 5D HD TV (not talking about the needed bandwidth, which will fail to be there every other day…).

    A few years ago, in the country where I stay, everybody had a working TV. Now, everything turned digital, people keep paying for more and more tech needed to get the 150 channels (most of which in a language they do not understand), it’s out of order every more often than not and, in addition, most shows moved to pay channels (e.g. all soccer and Formula 1 broadcasts).

    Do like me: put your TV in the trash, follow F1 Fanatic and live timing, go to races when you can: there the passion is palpable ! (pretty sure your Super Digital 5D HD TV won’t get any close to it.)

  6. The second ‘is’ is an ‘if’ and there’s a lost ‘every’ in the second paragraph: sorry for the typos! (Don’t know how to edit).

  7. 1080p would be a good start and we wouldn’t need to buy a new tv for that.

    I think better camera work would also help as the shots we get seem to be exactly the same as they were 20 years ago just in higher def. The Monaco camera angles are awful, it’s literally advertising board to advertising board without even getting cars in focus at times.

    1. agreed on the camera work, pretty disappointing lack of progress…

  8. I just wait for the chip in my head, letting me fight it out with Hamilton while I feel all sensations and smell the rubber…

  9. epic comment on that facebook link:
    ‘I just don’t understand 3D! I mean if you want 3D F1, go to the race.’

  10. Oh yeah and I say Ulltra HD over 3D. but if 3D didnt require glasses or cause eyestrain then maybe. how about a hologram style image?

  11. I haven’t seen F1 in 3D but the films I have seen with the technology have disappointed me to the point where I’d have rather seen them in 2D. I love HD and Ultra HD would be fantastic! Although it’s early considering the technology is new and the prices are crazy, I’d like that when it finall is accessible F1 will quickly adopt it.
    I have a TV bought a few years ago, maybe five, which says “HD ready” on it. When Italy switched to digital broadcasting a couple of years ago the first HD channels started to appear, but to my disappointment I can only hear them while the screen is black.

    1. 3D is a novelty joke. The last movie my gf and I saw in 3D was such a dud-experience that we’ve not been back for a 3D show since.

  12. I have so far missed out on HD broadcasting of F1, but I know the huge difference HD can make. I had my Xbox connected to the normal RCA connecter for some time when I decided to buy an HDMI lead, and the picture clarity vastly improves. Ultra HD therefore sounds as if it will be immensely clear, truly revealing every little detail (who knows, maybe we’ll be able to see individual water droplets from the tyre spray)!

    3D on the other hand lacks the crispness and clarity that HD offers, and it is more of a novelty that a genuinely good way to view F1. 3D is not quite as realistic as it would appear, and the motion blur also looks to be a major issue in panning shots or close ups. So Ultra HD is the way forward I think, which seems to be reflected in the polls!

  13. I’d just like to be able to watch every race free.

    1. @bullfrog – My parents pay my Sky subscription, but +1 regardless! Making it accessible to everyone is more important – everyone should be able to see what a great sport it is.

  14. I’d settle just for regular HD coverage of all race weekends w/ commentary quality equal to that of or better than the BBC or SKY. Last year’s SPEEDTV F1 coverage in America was perhaps the worst yet and I preferred to wait and download HD files of the events to watch on my computer than view it live on Speed. NBC won’t be any better. I’d pay for SKY if there was some way to have it here in USA like you lucky Brits! You don’t realize how could you have it!!!!

  15. I care most about image quality and 3D looks significantly worse than a good quality HD image. I absolutely hate 3D and I don’t feel it adds anything to sports coverage. I don’t even like it in the cinema since the screen is so much dimmer and the picture is worse.

  16. I’d just like to be able to enjoy the current generation HD technology. In Australia they broadcast the races on a standard definition channel so the HD footage goes to waste! It’s ludicrous.

  17. 4K: 3840 pixels × 2160 pixels and 8K: 7680 pixels × 4320 pixels

  18. Not got an 3D TV so not seen any of the test in 3D, just happy there is some coverage at all .

    4K is a long way off and if they can find bandwidth for it can we not get better HD first!

    Both Sky and the BBC broadcast at 1080 but the bitrate is important too, the BBC broadcast around 10Mb , sky are better at 15 to 20Mb . I think sky broadcast the race at a higher rate the the pre and post race shows. But I am lead to believe that sky share bandwidth between all HD sports channels so it can very depending on what else is on,

    But a blue ray disc is read at 36 Mb so F1 HD could be better !

  19. Jared H (@thejaredhuang)
    2nd March 2013, 19:30

    I’d like to see HD onboard before we talk about 3D or UHD. Heck I’d even settle for true 1080p on TV before UHD.

  20. Both pointless.

    At the end of the day, I watch F1 to enjoy the racing, not to be blown over by how highly defined the cars are. But then my gripe is with HD/3D in general rather than F1 in HD.

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