German commercial broadcaster Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland will launch a linear Ultra HD test channel on April 28, 2018.
The opening event will be the live broadcast of the Formula 1 race from Baku in Azerbaijan. RTL UHD will show all Formula 1 races and qualifying rounds of the current season live.
On May 5, the test channel will screen the final of the talent show Deutschland sucht den Superstar (DSDS) in Ultra HD in combination with HDR. The production by UFA Show & Factual will be the first live show in Europe to be broadcast in UHD/HDR.
For RTL UHD, Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland has upgraded its broadcasting centre in Cologne and set up the technical facilities for making the UHD signal available to platform partners.
The first distribution partner is satellite platform HD+ which will transmit RTL UHD exclusively via satellite on Astra (19.2° East) to DTH satellite households in Germany. All viewers who have subscribed to the HD+ channel package and have an UHD TV set will be able to receive RTL UHD at no additional cost. For reception, an UHD HD+ set-top-box, a HD+ CI module or the HD+ TVkey is required.
Andre Prahl, Head of Programme Distribution at Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland, said: “UHD will become more important to us in the coming years and our goal as a leading media company is always to set new standards in this area. We are therefore pleased that we can expand our tests in the area of UHD with the launch of RTL UHD and the broadcast of Formula 1 and DSDS.”
In early 2018, RTL already showed the first German free-TV series, Sankt Maik, in UHD/HDR on HD+ and on its streaming service TV Now. In autumn 2017, five episodes of the RTL II documentary Die Reimanns and in autumn 2016 three episodes of the RTL Nitro car show Nitro Autoquartett were shown in UHD on HD+.
RTL UHD will broadcast on Astra (19.2° East) on the frequency 11.391 GHz H (SR 22,000, FEC 5/6). Distribution on further infrastructures and platforms is an option, a spokesman of Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland told Broadband TV News, adding that there are currently, however, no other distribution partners apart from HD+.
The test channel will be initially available for a limited time until the end of 2018. Along with UHD1 by HD+ and Travelxp 4k, RTL UHD will be the third UHD offer to be shown exclusively by HD+ via satellite in Germany.
“As more and more channels test their formats on UHD1, broadcasters are now increasingly considering their own offers. RTL is taking on a pioneering role in the German TV market,” said Georges Agnes, Managing Director Operations and Product Development of HD Plus. “Meanwhile, UHD has established itself well in the viewer market: Every second TV set sold is now an UHD set. We look forward to more!”