Currys/ PC World, BT Sport and M&C Saatchi approached Sensum to see if we would investigate the quality of 4K Television compared to that of HD.
The aim? Was 4K more immersive and more engaging to the viewer than HD?
This coincided with BT Sport unveiling their Ultra HD channel which airs Champions League, Premier League, Europa League and FA Cup, the first of its kind in the UK.
This was the perfect opportunity to interrogate the hype of 4K, by lining up a match broadcast in Ultra HD side by side with a match broadcast in normal HD and comparing the data sets of both audiences.
The chosen fixture was Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea in the Premier League on Sunday 29th November, our twenty respondents that made up the two audiences were five Spurs fans and five Chelsea fans watching in HD and then five Spurs fans and five Chelsea fans watching in HD.
Ian Wright was our presenter on the day and was himself quite fascinated.
We employed GSR to determine the emotional engagement of our audiences (by measuring the change in skin conductance due to microscopic sweat levels, which are indicative of the activity of the autonomic nervous system.) The results were quite interesting…
In the opening moments of the game both teams were feeling each other out, Spurs had played a tricky Europa league fixture in Azerbaijan three days before and Chelsea had suffered a stuttering start to the campaign so we didn't necessarily have the makings of a classic on our hands. It wasn't really until twenty minutes in that we started to notice trends in the data as it was streaming in real time. Below are two screenshots side by side of a Spurs attack after some post analysis;
Fig.1 - 4K TV Response
A much higher level of engagement in replays for 4K became a recurring theme early on. Typically when a chance (or threat) is gone, stress levels will decrease dramatically, but 4K keeps audiences on the edges of their seats as they are so drawn in. (Compare 4K Fig.1 with the HD Fig. 2)
Fig.2 - HD TV Response
Chelsea were the better team going into the second half and Chelsea fan's arousal levels remained the highest overall, another interesting replay to note was that of Oscar playing for a free, once again Spurs fans are highly engaged at the slow motion replay in 4K, and incensed at the gamesmanship (Fig. 3,) HD fans seem to be much more accepting and unfazed! (Fig. 4)
Fig.3 - 4K TV Response
Fig.4 - HD TV Response
Below are screenshots from Lamela and Matic's 50/50 ball that left Matic injured on the turf for a few minutes with just the arousal of the Spurs fans displayed this time.
Once again Spurs fans are as enthused with the replay as they are during normal play. ( Fig. 5)
Fig. 5 - 4K TV Response
HD and are inattentive towards stoppages in play as we can tell from the troughs in the arousal levels (Fig.6)
Fig. 6 - HD TV Response
Even though the game was a dull scoreless draw the experiment on the day was a great success, below are our key findings:
* 4K produces a higher level of arousal throughout the broadcast.
* Engagement in HD is heavily influenced by team performance; team performance has much less bearing on engagement for 4K.
* Replays are much more gripping in 4K and hold audience attention much better.
* 4K actively immerses the audience, by comparison a HD broadcast is a much more passive experience.