4K HDR TV Format: iPlayer 4K device support

Update: The upcoming Amazon 4K Fire TV Stick will now support HLG – find out more | buy here.

The plethora of 4K UHD formats looks like the format wars of  Betamax vs VHS, BluRay Vs … well, whatever the other HD media disc thing was, MP4 and er, OGG(?) all over again.
TLDR: your iPlayer app can’t offer you 4K content on the three major streaming media player platforms.

In December last year the Beeb recently launched 4K HDR content on their iPlayer platform – this is awesome because you can now watch Blue Planet II in amazing 4K HDR, and we can surely expect more content to become available in this new format as the year progresses.

However, being an organisation interested in showing live sport and events in 4K they have launched their 4K HDR content in a HDR format known as HLG. They have chosen this because other formats rely on Meta data, which doesn’t play well with live event streaming.

This is a bit of a problem. TVs are getting a reputation for their lack of support in the form of software updates. So, unless you like buying a new TV every 18 months, most need to invest in some form of media player to plugin to your TV to make sure that you can watch all your favourite content over the life of the TV.

So, whilst Samsung and LG have announced that their newer TV’s will support 4 major formats of HDR (HDR10, HLG, Advanced HDR, Dolby vision) most of the media player manufactures are supporting only one or two formats.

  • Amazon fire 4K devices support HDR10 but none of the others
  • Apple TV 4K supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision
  • Google Chromecast 4K supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision (which is interesting as YouTube HDR implements HLG).

As the owner of a 2015 4K TV, Apple TV, & Amazon Fire – I’m a little bit miffed about this.

Questions or comments? Let me know!