TV Answer Man, I remember last year that our NBC Sports channel had the Bulls and Blackhawks in 4K on Comcast. Do you know if it will have them again in 4K? And will DIRECTV have them in 4K? My brother has a dish. — Charlie, Evanston, Illinois. 

Charlie, NBC Sports Chicago last year did several home games of the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks in 4K. Both DIRECTV and Comcast carried the 4K feeds on special 4K channels. (NBC Sports does not provide a 4K stream on its app.)

However, NBC Sports Chicago’s 4K productions abruptly stopped in the spring of 2021 after the channel did a few Chicago White Sox games in the format as well.

But they are back, baby!

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Yes, NBC Sports Chicago is again doing 4K broadcasts of the home games for the Bulls and Blackhawks. By example, this Thursday’s NBA matchup between the Bulls and Atlanta Hawks at 8 p.m. ET will be in 4K.

But before you get too excited, there are two caveats.

1. To watch the games in 4K, you will need to live in the Bulls’ and Blackhawks’ broadcast territory, which includes Illinois and parts of some neighboring states such as Iowa. If you live outside that market, the games will be blacked out. This is because NBC Sports Chicago, which has the TV rights, is a regional sports channel; it does not have the national broadcast rights to the games, whether it’s HD or 4K. (The exception to the rule is if the game is on a national broadcast; if it is, it will be available in 4K.)

2. DIRECTV is again providing the Chicago-area 4K broadcasts, but Comcast is not. The cable operator did not offer an explanation when asked by the TV Answer Man, but it is definitely not airing the Bulls and Blackhawks in 4K.

So, Charlie, sounds like you’re going to have to visit your bro. Bring beer.

Hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann