Q. I don’t understand why the Super Bowl, the biggest game in the world, is not going to be in 4K. This makes no sense! I bought a 4K TV for Christmas for our family just to watch stuff in 4K and the Super Bowl isn’t even going to be in 4K. Come on!! — Hank, Boulder, Colorado.
Hank, you’re right. CBS has announced that Super Bowl 2021, which will pit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Kansas City Chiefs on February 7, will not be available in 4K. That includes streaming, cable and satellite. The game will only be available in High-Definition on all devices and services.
The decision has surprised many 4K TV owners because Fox last year became the first network to offer the Super Bowl in 4K. Once a specific event is available in 4K, it usually remains available in the format. However, there are some things that are different this year that might explain why CBS is only doing the game in high-def.
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Before I explain, let me say that I asked CBS — twice — why it’s not doing the game in 4K. The network’s PR team did not respond, which is surprising because I did get a response last week when I asked if the game would be in 4K. But two different spokesmen did not respond to my follow-up questions regarding why.
So that leaves me to offer some educated guesses.
First, there’s an international pandemic.
Yes, if you haven’t noticed, that Coronavirus thing has shut down and/or altered many aspects of our life for the last year. While sporting events resumed last summer, they did so with several safety restrictions such as no fans and frequent testing of the athletes. The pandemic isn’t over and it continues to affect how the networks cover the games. Due to the need for social distancing and other precautions, it’s not as easy for CBS to place its production people everywhere it would like. It’s quite possible that CBS would need more people and production trucks for 4K than Fox because the latter actually produced the 2020 Super Bowl in 1080p HD and upscaled it to 4K. If CBS wanted to do a ‘native 4K’ production — the game is broadcast on site in 4K and transmitted in 4K — it would likely require greater personnel and that’s easier than it looks these days.
Second, CBS has never done a NFL game in 4K.
I can hear people already saying, hey, didn’t ESPN just do the college football championship game in 4K? The pandemic didn’t stop them.
Well, that’s right. But ESPN has been doing 4K broadcasts for a few years. CBS has only been involved in producing select holes of The Masters golf tournament in 4K. The network has never done a football game in 4K, let alone a game of the magnitude of the Super Bowl. The prospect of producing next month’s game in 4K during a pandemic – and without the past experience of doing a major 4K broadcast — probably scared the network’s executives to death.
Again, this is just speculation because CBS is refusing to say officially why it’s decided against a 4K broadcast. (And, guys, if you would like to offer a reason, it’s not too late. You know where I am.) For all we know, the reason is something quirky, such as an executive’s whim.
Hank, hope that makes sense. Happy viewing, and stay safe!
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Maybe the NFL should force the networks to broadcast this game in UHD. As a European living in the US, it is unbelievable how far behind this so called “technology leading” country is. When visiting family in Europe, many sports events are broadcast in UHD: UEFA championsleague, Formula 1 etc. Now the Europeans can make fun of the US once more when the “World Chamionship of a sport no one outside of the United States plays” is shot in 1990’s technology…
I remember back in the day when there were three networks, CBS was the very last network to broadcast regular tv shows in color. Once last, always last.
That is not true CBS was the second TV network to go tp almost all color programming schedule after NBC, in the fall of 1965. “The Lucy Show” was the first show in color on Monday night in fact when CBS announced in early 1965, that many of their Fall shows would be televised in Color that set off a boon in color TV sales. Up to that time very few homes had color tv. ABC up to that time had no TV shows in color. Earlier ABC, and CBS did experiment with color programming, but did not last, as the audience was to small
to cover the additional cost.
CBS wanted to make it CBS all access only and the NFL said no?
CBS wants it on broadcast and very few CBS station have ATSC 3.0?
CBS is losing an lot on ad slots this year and needs to cut costs?