TV Answer Man, I like Fox’s 4K college basketball games. But I love ESPN’s 4K games. The picture is even more realistic than Fox. You feel like you’re there. Do you know what the next ESPN 4K game will be? — John, Madison, Wisconsin.
John, as you may know, ESPN is doing one college basketball game in 4K per week during the regular season, starting this month. (The sports network also had a 4K game of the week during most of the college football regular season.)
The 4K broadcast is available on special 4K channels from select pay TV providers, including DIRECTV, Comcast, Verizon and YouTube TV. (Unlike Fox, ESPN does not provide a 4K stream on its apps, ESPN or ESPN+.)
And this week’s ESPN 4K game is…The Syracuse Orange versus the Duke Blue Devils on Saturday (January 22) at noon ET at the Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina. (The all ACC-matchup will be simulcast in HD on the main ESPN channel.)
The sixth-ranked Blue Devils enter the game 14-3 while unranked Syracuse is 9-9. Duke is led by 6’10” forward Paolo Banchero who’s averaging 18.1 points per game. Syracuse is paced by 6’6″ guard Buddy Boeheim who’s averaging 19.2 points a game.
Why doesn’t ESPN offer more college basketball games in 4K? Unlike Fox, ESPN does native 4K broadcasts, which means it’s broadcast on site in 4K as well as transmitted to the home in the format. (Fox upscales the on-site 1080p HDR, High Dynamic Range, broadcast to 4K HDR for the home transmission.) The native 4K broadcast requires more preparation and expense than the upscaled edition, which could be a reason why ESPN does one 4K game each week rather than Fox’s multiple 4K games per week.
And in case you’re wondering, many videophiles say the upscaled 4K picture is not as sharp as the native 4K image. But the inclusion of HDR can offer heightened colors and vividness. ESPN’s 4K broadcast does not include HDR.
John, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann