DIRECTV and Comcast have both confirmed that they will offer this Monday’s national college football championship game between top-ranked Alabama and third-ranked Georgia in 4K.
The game, which will be broadcast by ESPN, will begin at 8 p.m. ET on Monday. The 4K feed will be part of the network’s Megacast which includes multiple channels with different views and presentations.
ESPN told the TV Answer Man yesterday that the 4K broadcast will not be ESPN’s main feed. Instead, it will feature the network’s ‘SkyCam,’ which is a camera system suspended over the field and controlled by a computer.
In addition, the 4K version will include the ESPN radio play-by-play rather than the play-by-play or commentary from the ESPN TV announcing crew.
Unlike Fox, ESPN does not stream live 4K sporting events on its apps or web site. The only way to watch them is if your TV provider offers the 4K version on the provider’s 4K channel. This is what both DIRECTV and Comcast will do.
Update: YouTube TV and Verizon will also carry the game in 4K.
For Comcast, this is the first time it has offered an ESPN event in 4K since last spring. Comcast last month signed a new carriage deal with Disney, which included ESPN, and that permitted it to resume 4K broadcasts of ESPN events.
We will update this story when we get more information on which pay TV services will carry the game in 4K.
For 4K videophiles, the ESPN broadcast of the championship game means it will be available in ‘native 4K’ — the game will be produced and aired in 4K rather than ‘upconverted’ from HD to the format. In contrast, Fox’s Thursday Night Football 4K broadcasts are produced in 1080p and then upconverted to 4K.
The native 4K broadcast should feature a smoother and sharper resolution than one that is upconverted to 4K.
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— Phillip Swann