Q. I’ve been reading about the Super Bowl not really being in 4K. Everyone says it will be upscaled, whatever that means. Can you explain what this is, and whether the picture will look better than something not in 4K. — Tim, Ramona, California.
Tim, Fox plans to produce its Super Bowl coverage in 1080p and ‘upscale’ it to a 4K broadcast as opposed to shooting the event in 4K and transmitting in the same format. Upscaling is the process when one video format is converted to another. In this case, Fox will take the 1080p HDR signal and convert it to a 4K format.
(This is what Fox did during the 2019 season with the 4K display of Thursday Night Football; the Thursday games were not produced in 4K, but they were upscaled to 4K.)
Upscaling 4K is not as good as what’s called, native or true 4K, which means the original event was produced in 4K, and broadcast or streamed in 4K as well. But the 4K upscaled broadcast should be an improvement over 1080i or 1080p HD, and a definite improvement over Fox’s past 720p HD coverage of the Super Bowl.
I say should be because Fox’s upscaled 4K presentations in the past have been inconsistent.
For instance, I was impressed with Fox’s Thursday Night Football broadcasts; the colors and details were definitely more vivid and realistic.
But I thought Fox’s upscaled 4K coverage of last October’s American League Championship series between New York and Houston was a major disappointment. The colors were richer, but the overall image was soft. You couldn’t detect such details as blades of grass, the stitches on a baseball, and so on, as you normally can on a true 4K broadcast. It looked like someone took a 720p HD picture and colored it.
So it’s impossible to say now what we will get on Sunday. My guess is that Fox will take extra precautions to ensure a superb picture, considering this is the Super Bowl, after all. But this is a new technology so we’ll just have to wait until game time to find out if 4K TV has taken another step forward.
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— Phillip Swann