TV Answer Man, I was very sad to see that ESPN isn’t doing any more regular season games in college football in 4K. I love their picture. It looks so life-like. Do you know if they will do any of the bowl games in 4K. That would certainly make us feel better, I think. — Jamal, Toledo, Ohio.
Jamal, you’re right. ESPN disappointed numerous 4K enthusiasts this week when it disclosed to the TV Answer Man that it will not produce additional 2021 regular season college football games in 4K. The network broadcasts its live 4K sporting events in ‘native 4K,’ which means it’s produced at the event in 4K and transmitted to the home in the format as well. (In contrast, Fox upscales its live sports productions from 1080p to 4K for home transmission.)
Most video enthusiasts say the native 4K picture is more realistic than an upscaled 4K one, although ESPN’s 4K broadcast does not include HDR (High Dynamic Range), which can enhance the colors.
So will ESPN bring some holiday cheer to the 4K audience by doing some of 2021-22 bowl games in 4K? I asked the network today and a spokeswoman responded that the answer is yes.
“We’ll have a 4K option for the CFP National Championship as part of the MegaCast,” she said.
That means that this season’s college football championship game, which will be played January 10, 2022 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, will be available in 4K. ESPN, which did last year’s championship game in 4K as well, will simulcast the 2022 finale in HD on the main ESPN channel.
ESPN has the TV rights to roughly three dozen other bowl games including five on New Year’s Day, but it appears they will only be available in high-def.
During the regular season, DIRECTV, Verizon and YouTube TV offered ESPN’s ‘4K Game of the Week’ on special 4K channels. (Unlike Fox, ESPN does not offer a 4K stream on its app, ESPN+.) It’s likely they will carry the championship game in the format, too, but there could be additional carriers. The TV Answer Man will monitor this situation and report back here if there are any updates.
Jamal, hope that helps. Happy viewing, and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann