TV Answer Man, I read your article about ESPN+ getting all the NHL TV games for this season. But I was wondering if any of them will be in 4K? ESPN has 4K sports and hockey would look sensational in 4K. Do you know what the plan is? — Jim, Nashville.
Jim, you’re right. ESPN+, the network’s streaming service, now has the rights to more than 1,000 out-of-market NHL regular season games during the upcoming season, replacing NHL.TV as the go-to place for hockey fans. (Note: The 2021-22 season starts on October 12.)
In addition to the 1,000 games, which are broadcasts from regional sports networks, ESPN+ will offer 75 exclusive regular season NHL games during the 2021-22 season. You won’t find these matches anywhere else, including the RSNs. That’s a pretty good deal considering ESPN+ is only $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year — and you also get documentaries, and live coverage of other ESPN-produced events such as Major League Baseball.
But will any of the NHL games be available in 4K, you ask?
As of now, the answer is no. ESPN has not said it plans to offer any NHL games in the format. TNT, which has the rights to 72 games this season, has also not announced any plans to deliver them in 4K. This is a shame because hockey is one of our most picturesque sports, not to mention the added clarity would help viewers better follow the puck from home.
But to date, every U.S. network that has had the rights to NHL games has shown little interest in broadcasting them in 4K. NBC Sports Chicago has done some games in 4K, but abruptly stopped early this year. Rogers Cable does NHL games in 4K, but that’s Canada, not the U.S.
Update: The Altitude channel does some Colorado Avalanche games in 4K, but they are only available on DIRECTV.
The TV Answer Man will continue to monitor this situation, and report back here if anything changes. But for now, no 4K for you, American hockey fans.
Happy viewing, and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann