ESPN will broadcast this Saturday’s Texas Tech-Houston college football game in 4K, the network confirmed today to the TV Answer Man. The game, which will begin at 7 p.m. ET, will be played at the NRG Stadium in Houston.
The Houston-Texas Tech matchup is ESPN’s 4K game of the week. An ESPN spokeswoman said a new 4K game of the week will be announced every Monday after the network selects one from the upcoming week’s schedule.
Unlike Fox, ESPN does not provide 4K broadcasts of live sporting events on its streaming app, ESPN+. (Fox streams games in 4K on the Fox Sports app.) However, the ESPN spokeswoman tells the TV Answer Man that DIRECTV, YouTube TV and Verizon have confirmed they will offer the Texas Tech-Houston game in 4K on special 4K channels.
More pay TV providers may provide 4K feeds of the game as well, and we will update this story if we get more information.
ESPN does its live sporting events in ‘native 4K,’ meaning the event is produced in 4K, and broadcast or streamed in 4K as well. In contrast, Fox produces its sporting events, including NFL and college football games, in 1080p and ‘upscales’ it to a 4K broadcast.
Upscaling is the process when one video format is converted to another. In this case, Fox takes the 1080p signal and converts it to a 4K format.
Many 4K enthusiasts say ESPN’s 4K picture is better than Fox because native 4K produces a sharper picture with more clarity and details.
But Fox produces sports in 4K HDR (High Dynamic Range) rather than just 4K. HDR provides a more vivid picture, particularly more vivid colors. If done poorly, it can look like someone took out a few crayons and colored the images. But if it’s done right, the picture is more dynamic and evocative.
ESPN only does 4K, not 4K HDR.
ESPN also announced today that ESPN+ will stream more than 500 college football games in high-def during the 2021 season.
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— Phillip Swann