For the first time ever, the Super Bowl this year will be available in 4K, which promises a sharper and more vivid picture than we have ever seen. The news has 4K TV owners scrambling for more information so the TV Answer Man has compiled this guide that has everything you need to know.
Which Network Will Broadcast It?
Fox has the broadcast rights to this Sunday’s matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers, which begins at 6:30 p.m. ET. The network will offer a 4K stream of the game on its Fox Sports app, which is available on select streaming devices. (See below for more on the devices.)
Can You Watch the 4K Broadcast With an Antenna? Or, By Tuning In Your Local Fox Station On Cable or Satellite?
No. Fox, the network, or its affiliates, currently do not broadcast 4K signals, only high-def and standard-def. To watch Fox’s coverage in 4K without a cable or satellite service, you will need to get a streaming device that is 4K-enabled, and offers the Fox Sports app.
Which Streaming Devices Are Compatible With 4K and the Fox Sports App?
Fox says the following devices are capable of showing the game in 4K:
*AppleTV 4K (tvOS 12 or above)
*Roku 4K-enabled devices (Premiere, Premiere +, Ultra, Streaming Stick +, Roku 4K TVs)
* Fire TV 4K streaming devices and smart TVs (Amazon Fire TV Stick, Cube, and Insignia and Toshiba brand Fire 4K TVs.)
Note: The Apple TV 4K device will only display the game in 4K, not 4K HDR (High Dynamic Range, which promises more vivid and realistic colors.)
What Else Will You Need For the 4K Stream?
Well, for starters, you’ll need a 4K TV, and a 4K HDR one if you want to watch it in that format. You’ll also need an Internet service that averages 25 Mbps speed so the 4K stream isn’t buffering, or I should say, less likely to buffer. (Live streaming has an inconsistent history in big events.) And, finally, Fox says the TV must be compatible with the HDR10 format, and you must have a compatible HDMI cable connected from the device to the set. (And who says 4K is complicated?)
What Will You See On the 4K Stream?
Fox’s 4K pre-game coverage will begin at 2 p.m. ET. You’ll get that, the game itself, the halftime show featuring Jennifer Lopez, and the post-game coverage.
But What About the Commercials?
There are conflicting reports on whether Fox will show the commercials in 4K. So, at this point, I wouldn’t bet on it. It is more likely they will be streamed in high-def, but this is one of those things that we won’t know for sure until game day. This is the first time that any network has streamed the game in 4K so don’t be surprised if there are, well, some technical surprises.
Is There Anything Else You Need to Know to Watch the Stream?
Yes, one more thing. You will need to download the FOX Sports app on your device, and create a profile on the app before viewing.
The Stream Sounds Complicated. Can You Watch the 4K Broadcast On Cable & Satellite?
Yes. DIRECTV, Verizon, Dish, Comcast, Altice (Optimum), RCN, and the live streaming service, fuboTV, will all air the game in 4K. However, you will need a 4K-enabled set-top from your provider to watch the game in 4K. Check with your provider for details for which set-top you will need, and any other steps you will need to take.
With fuboTV, you will only need a streaming device, or a TV that’s 4K-enabled. However, take note: the live streaming service, which costs $55 a month, does not carry all Fox affiliates. So if it doesn’t have your affiliate, you’re out of luck. Here is a list of the Fox affiliates that are available on fubo.
Okay, You’re Excited. Is There Anything Else You Need to Know?
Oh, yeah. Fox actually 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 4K, which means the original event was produced in 4K, and broadcast or streamed in 4K as well. Still, the 4K broadcast should be an improvement over 1080i or 1080p HD, and a definite improvement over Fox’s past 720p HD coverage of the game.
The TV Answer Man will update this story during the week if more information is disclosed, such as another TV provider deciding to offer the game in 4K.
— Phillip Swann