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BT Sport Preps Ultra HD Channel

Ericsson said it has struck a multi-year broadcast and media services deal to help BT Sport launch what’s being billed as the U.K.’ first Ultra HD TV channel, as well as two other channels and a new multiscreen interactive “red button” service.

Financial terms weren’t disclosed, but Ericsson is tasked with designing, building and running BT Sport Europe, free-to-air service BT Sport Showcase, and BT Sport UHD. BT Sport also extended Ericsson's existing six-year contract for BT Sport 1 and 2 by an additional three years. This contract includes playout and media management services and access services for both channels.

Ericsson said BT Sport UHD will be the first 4K/Ultra HD channel to launch in the UK and will feature live soccer and other “premium” content. BT’s 4K offering is slated to launch in August, debuting with Community Shield, a “the traditional curtain raiser to the English football season,” per Broadband TV  News

The coming interactive, red button service, BT Sports Extra, will enable viewers to pick from up to eight UEFA games that are broadcast live at the same time, including UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League games.

"BT Sport's UEFA Champions League coverage sets out to bring viewers the best ever experience of football's leading club competition,” Jamie Hindhaugh, COO of BT Sport and BT TV, said in a statement. “Our 4K coverage of the UEFA Champions League alongside other competitions will bring a truly cinematic experience into fans' living rooms."

BT Sport was launched in August 2013, and is offered through BT TV, Sky's satellite platform, Virgin Media and via the BT Sport App.

4K activity is also picking up in the U.S. among MVPDs. DirecTV and Comcast have launched small on-demand offerings, and Dish Networks is expected to do the same later this year when it launches the UHD-capable Joey box.