Sony Brings the FIFA World Cup 2014 in 4K to Millions of Fans (Sort of)

The FIFA World Cup 2014 – the world’s premiere sporting event is less than a week away. We’ve already been bombarded by World Cup themed commercials on TV, in print, and on the Web. And, this is no coincidence, as it is the most popular sporting event ever. It is viewed by over a Billion people every four years.

In past years, before the Internet revolution, millions of people would flock around their TV’s at home, or at a bar, to cheer their football heroes compete at the grandest stage, hoping their team would lift the Jules Rimes Trophy in the final match. Today, it is estimated that more than half of the World Cup viewers (about 500 Million people) would consume matches and other related programmes on mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets. The dominance of television content providers and TV manufacturers alike has been challenged by an evolving interconnected world of social interaction amongst millions of fans worldwide.

Just weeks before the start of the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil, Sony – a major sponsor of the event, announced their brand new social network – “One Stadium Live” as a part of their One Stadium promotional campaign for their latest 4K TV sets and immersive football watching experience. You can see the 4K promotional film below (at 1080p max resolution on YouTube!?):

Titled ‘One Stadium’, the promotional video features football fans worldwide, experiencing the phenomenon of World Cup via different Sony devices – on mobile tablets and smart phones in bars, gaming with friends on their PlayStations, and watching on 4K TV from a different country.

The promo was created by Isobar, a leading worldwide ad agency, and directed by Samuel Abrahams. The cinematic style of the short promotional film spreads the message of “the stadium has no borders” and displays the charismatic fervour of football fans worldwide, whose experiences can be shared no matter where they are physically located.

Sony’s “One Stadium Live” social network is a truly global platform, which is available in a multitude of languages such as English, Portuguese, French, German, Spanish and Japanese and is optimised for mobile, tablet and desktop computers. The platform’s main goal is disseminate content shared by football fans worldwide during the World Cup on Twitter, Facebook and Google+, and with the help of conversation tracking technology analyses a limitless number of words in six languages in order to organise the often times chaotic social content into meaningful conversations, thus making the World Cup experience an even more immersive one than ever before.

4K delivery technology, both in terms of online streaming and actual 4K TV content is still in its infancy. Four years ago 3D become the next standard for TV and Cinema content. However, it didn’t succeed. 3D required viewers to wear eye glasses, and for someone like me, who already wears a pair of glasses, the additional pair become cumbersome and totally ridiculous. Some of the 3D content was to some nauseating and caused physical discomfort manifested in a severe headache or eye strain. Even though it is still around today, TV manufacturers like Panasonic, pumped out 3D TV’s which didn’t sell as well as they’d expected.

Year by year after 2011, we saw a gradual decline in 3D output from Hollywood, and less and less content available in 3D. 4K picked up in consumer terms right after where 3D left off. NAB 2014 saw a number of new 4K cameras announced – such as the new AJA Cion 4K, two new 4K Cameras from BlackMagic Design, and Panasonic’s long awaited S35 4K Varicam. The acquisition side of 4K is here.

However, the delivery side of 4K needs to do some serious catch up. It is not simply enough to crank out manufacturing 4K TV’s, but if you don’t have anything in 4K to watch on them, what’s the point? Blu-ray tops out at 1080p, and there is not a single affordable consumer media device for 4K delivery at the moment. I am sure that either Sony or other manufacturers will come up with a 4K Blu-ray or whatever the name will be, so we can enjoy our favourite movies in real 4K on our 4K TVs.

Whether you watch the World Cup on a brand new 4K TV in glorious (in 720p, more on that below) detail, or on your old LCD panel or even older standard definition TV, every football fan wants to be a part of the experience.

Sony is shooting six matches of the World Cup in 4K for a documentary, which will be released after the tournament. Details on actual 4K delivery for the documentary are still to be released.

Unfortunately, there is not a single TV Broadcaster at the moment, which will be broadcasting the tournament in 4K. TV manufacturers have been pushing 4K TVs for the past couple of years  in turn, making a clear indication of their commitment to 4K and the future of televised sporting events. Let’s just hope that 4K streaming and broadcasting becomes a reality soon, and 4K catches up faster and remains more dominant than 3D.

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