Q. So I have a Sony 4K TV and I can get the Fox Sports app on my TV. Will I be able to watch the Super Bowl today in 4K on that app, or will I need additional equipment? — Marty, Owings, Maryland.
Marty, this is a great question. The answer, unfortunately, is that you won’t be able to watch the game in 4K on your Sony TV’s Fox Sports app. Let me explain.
Fox has the broadcast rights to today Super Bowl LIV 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, but you can’t watch in 4K on just any Fox Sports app.
According to Fox, the app must be viewed on one of the following devices:
* Apple TV 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.)
The Fox Sports app on your Sony TV will only deliver a high-def stream of the game, not the 4K stream.
In addition to the three devices, the following pay TV operators will offer the game in 4K:
DIRECTV, Verizon, Dish, Comcast, Altice (Optimum), RCN, and the live streaming service, fuboTV. However, you will need a 4K-enabled set-top from your provider to watch the game in 4K. Check with your TV service 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 4K-enabled 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.)
Last note: 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.
Marty, hope that helps. Happy viewing!
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— Phillip Swann