TV Answer Man, I remember that MLB Network used to do some games they called Showcase games and they were in 4K on DIRECTV, I think. Are they still doing Showcase games and are they in 4K? — Maury, Brooklyn. 

Maury, you have a great memory. DIRECTV once had an agreement with the MLB Network to offer select broadcasts, called Showcase games, in 4K. In 2017, for example, DIRECTV aired 25 different MLB Network games in the format.

The satcaster stopped airing the Showcase games in 4K in 2019, but it appears they have returned. DIRECTV showed MLB Network’s broadcast of the New York Yankees-Chicago White Sox game last Thursday night on its 4K channel. And tonight, it will air the channel’s broadcast of the Boston Red Sox-Houston Astros game on a 4K channel as well, according to DIRECTV’s on-screen guide. (The MLB Network Showcase games are done by the channel’s in-house announcers and production team.)

This comes as a surprise because MLB Network officials told Sports Video Group last month that its Showcase games would be in 1080p HD, not 4K.

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“The biggest difficulty is combining 720p on the studio side and 1080p on the game side and how our archival elements are going to work,” an MLB Network official told SVG.

Of course, it’s possible that the channel upgraded the production to 4K since that article appeared. The TV Answer Man has asked DIRECTV and MLB Network for a comment but have yet to receive a response. We will update this article if we get more details.

Update: A MLB Network spokesperson tells the TV Answer Man that the games are produced in 1080p HDR but upconverted to 4K HDR for DIRECTV. This is similar to what Fox does for its live sports in 4K. They are produced on site in 4K and then upconverted to 4K for home delivery.

DIRECTV is the only pay TV provider that is offering the Showcase games on a 4K channel.

Here is the MLB Network’s schedule of upcoming ‘Showcase’ games during the 2022 season. They are simulcast in HD on the regular MLB Network channel.

Thu, May 12 8:00 PM NYY @ CWS
Mon, May 16 7:00 PM HOU @ BOS
Thu, May 19 7:00 PM SEA @ BOS
Mon, May 23 7:00 PM LAD @ WSH
Thu, Jun 2 7:00 PM LAA @ NYY
Wed, Jun 8 9:30 PM NYM @ SD
Thu, Jun 23 7:00 PM HOU @ NYY
Wed, Jun 29 7:00 PM ATL @ PHI
Thu, Jul 7 7:00 PM NYY @ BOS
Wed, Jul 13 7:30 PM LAD @ STL

The channel is expected to release a schedule of more Showcase games later this season.

Maury, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann