TV Answer Man, any word on this week’s ESPN 4K game for college basketball? I’m hoping for Duke and North Carolina. Can you please let us know? And why doesn’t ESPN do more games in 4K? — Bonnie, Raleigh, North Carolina.
Bonnie, as you may know, ESPN is doing one college basketball game in 4K per week during the regular season. (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 Duke Blue Devils versus the North Carolina Tar Heels on Saturday (March 5) at 6 p.m. 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 fourth-ranked Blue Devils enter the game 26-4 while unranked North Carolina is 22-8. Duke is led by 6’10” forward Paolo Banchero who’s averaging 16.9 points per game. North Carolina is paced by 6’10″ forward Armando Bacot who’s averaging 16.4 points a game and 12.7 rebounds.
Duke is the favorite with ESPN’s ‘Matchup Predictor’ forecasting the Blue Devils have a 85.9 chance of winning.
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.
Bonnie, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann