ESPN has some bad news for college football fans who like to watch their gridiron action in 4K. The sports network last night told the TV Answer Man that it will not produce any more college football games in 4K during the 2021 regular season.
The 4K broadcasts, which were done in native 4K, were only available on special 4K channels on three providers: DIRECTV, YouTube TV and Verizon. However, subscribers to those services raved about the detailed and vivid picture on their 4K screens.
(Native 4K means the network produces the event in 4K and transmits it to the home in the same format. Fox’s 4K broadcasts are upscaled, meaning they are produced in 1080p at the site and upscaled to 4K for the home transmission. Videophiles say native 4K produces a more realistic picture, but Fox’s 4K productions include HDR, High Dynamic Range, which can enhance the colors.)
ESPN, which has broadcast a ‘4K game of the week’ all season until now, may offer some 2021-22 college football bowl games in 4K. (The network last January broadcast the Alabama-Ohio State college football championship game in the format.) But a ESPN spokeswoman said last night that last week’s Florida State-Clemson game was the last game of the 2021 regular season that will be in 4K.
“No more 4K games are scheduled for the regular season,” she said.
The spokeswoman did not say why the network is stopping at this point during the season. ESPN is continuing to offer regular season college football games games in HD on the regular ESPN channel. There’s also no indication that ESPN will discontinue the 4K game of the week in future seasons.
With ESPN out, 4K enthusiasts will have to hope that Fox continues offering 4K versions of its college football productions. The network has streamed a 4K college football doubleheader on every Saturday during the 2021 season on the Fox Sports app. (Fox is also doing the 2021 World Series in 4K, including tonight’s game six.)
NBC also offers Notre Dame home games in 4K, including this Saturday’s matchup between the Fighting Irish and Navy. But the Notre Dame 4K games are only available on DIRECTV and YouTube TV.
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— Phillip Swann