Q. I have a 4K TV and I used to watch baseball and basketball in 4K on DIRECTV. But now that the games have started again, I don’t see any in 4K. Is this DIRECTV’s fault? Are they cutting expenses and hurting the consumer again? — Gene, Lusby, Maryland.
Gene, you’re right. DIRECTV, Dish, Comcast, Verizon, FuboTV and Altice Optimum all offered select live sporting events in 4K prior to the Coronavirus shutdown. The sports included baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, golf and football. While not all games were available in 4K, it was enough to keep 4K TV enthusiasts content.
But since the NBA, MLB and NHL resumed play in July, pay TV operators have not offered any live sports in 4K.
And there’s a simple reason for that.
The channels that own the TV rights are not producing post-shutdown games in 4K. It’s not because they no longer support 4K; it’s the stringent guidelines that were established to broadcast games during a pandemic which make producing a 4K broadcast a challenge too far.
Due to local Coronavirus ordinances, the networks are only permitted to use a limited number of technicians and camera operators at the games; a 4K broadcast requires more people and infrastructure.
You could argue that the programmers could ‘upconvert’ the HD broadcasts to 4K, as Fox did for last February’s Super Bowl. But again, the constraints and pressures already placed on the technical teams make that a lesser priority for the Coronavirus contests.
I’m sure once the virus subsides, and games are again played before fans, that live 4K sporting events will return. But that may not be for months.
Gene, hope that helps. Happy viewing, and stay safe!
Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at email@example.com. Please include your first name and hometown in your message.
— Phillip Swann