Q. I just bought a 4K TV and I want to watch some 4K without having to pay for it. Is that possible? — Tommy, Las Vegas.
Tommy, I’m afraid to inform you that there are few free 4K options. Very few.
The overwhelming majority of programming available today in 4K comes bundled with subscription Video on Demand services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. (Note: Hulu does not offer 4K programming.)
The overwhelming majority of programming available today in 4K comes bundled with subscription Video on Demand services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.
The good news here is if you already have an Amazon Prime subscription, there is no extra charge for the streamer’s 4K lineup, which includes most of its original programming. The bad news here is that Netflix charges $15.99 a month for its 4K plan, which is $3 a month more than the high-def package.
There are also Blu-ray movies and TV shows in 4K (usually costs more than $20 for a new disc, although some older discs are now going for around $15.), and Pay-Per-View options (usually costs $5.99 a movie.).
DIRECTV, Optimum, fuboTV and Dish also offer some shows and sporting events in 4K — and most of them are free if you consider spending dozens of dollars every month for your video subscription to be free.
Unfortunately, the broadcast networks (CBS, ABC, Fox, NBC) have yet to launch 4K editions of their live channels so you wouldn’t be able to access free 4K using your antenna.
So, is anything in 4K free? Really free?
Well, YouTube actually has some 4K videos (mostly nature stuff) for free. I would recommend checking out YouTube’s HDR channel, which can be found here. The vids are available in both 4K and HDR (High Dynamic Range), which can add realism and vividness to the 4K picture.
Roku also carries the 4K edition of the NASA channel for free. The space-oriented network offers both a live stream in 4K (usually from the International Space Station) as well as some On Demand shows.
Tommy, I hope that helps. Happy Viewing!
Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first name and hometown in your message.
— Phillip Swann