From a footballing perspective, the 2018 World Cup will live long in the memory.
Prior to the final, which will take place two days after this column was written, several countries considered among the favourites, including Germany, Brazil and Argentina, had long departed the stage. Meanwhile, Croatia found itself just 90 minutes away from winning the most coveted prize in football.
For the TV industry, the 2018 World Cup will be remembered as one in which 4K/Ultra HD sports coverage finally came of age. In Central and Eastern Europe, both the host nation Russia and Poland played their part in making the competition available to viewers in the format.
In Russia, the rights to the World Cup were granted last year to 2 Sport 2, a consortium made up of the First Channel, VGTRK and Match TV. Although it was at first unclear whether any of the matches would be broadcast in 4K, shortly before the competition started Channel One announced that its coverage would be in 4K in its smart TV application.
In Poland, the main flag bearers for 4K during the World Cup were the public broadcaster TVP and Canal+, with the former launching a new channel named TVP 4K ahead of the competition and latter offering coverage in the format on Canal+ 4K Ultra HD, also a new channel.
Elsewhere in Europe, a host of broadcasters offered coverage of the competition in 4K/Ultra HD. They included Germany’s Sky Deutschland, the UK’s BBC, NPO and Canal Digitaal in the Netherlands and Portugal’s RTP.
Furthermore, beIN Sports and Canal+ launched a special dedicated sports channel in France named beIN Sports 1 4K that would run until the end of the World Cup on June 15.
No doubt we will hear much more about these services and how they performed once the competition is over. What’s more, come the next World Cup in Qatar in 2022, most leading broadcasters in Europe will probably offer coverage of the event in 4K/Ultra HD.