TV Answer Man, I’m hoping you can settle a bet. My buddy says that Apple TV+’s baseball games are in 4K because the picture is so good. But I think they’re not in 4K, that they are just a quality HD picture. What’s the real deal here? I’ve heard people I respect give both answers. Is there any way to tell for sure? — Jeremy, Kansas City.
Jeremy, Apple TV+ has offered an exclusive Friday night doubleheader of MLB games this season as part of a new agreement with the league. The games are free at least through the end of July, which means you don’t need a $4.99 monthly subscription to Apple TV+ to watch them.
That’s been a big plus for baseball fans, but another perk has been the exceptional picture of the Apple TV+ broadcasts. Fans have been nearly unanimous in declaring that Apple’s MLB images are among the best they’ve ever seen. The picture has been vivid with far greater detail than normally seen in national (Fox, ESPN) or local (regional sports networks) MLB broadcasts.
In fact, the picture is so good that many viewers have commented on social media sites that it must be in 4K. There’s no way to offer a picture so realistic without it being in the best available format, they say.
The theory that the Apple TV+ games are in 4K has been fueled by Apple’s odd reluctance to comment publicly on whether they are or not. The TV Answer Man and other publications, such as CNET, have asked Apple about the MLB picture format, but the company has not responded to our inquiries. For some reason, Apple seemingly prefers to leave it a mystery.
However, the TV Answer Man is here to solve TV mysteries. Today, we asked a trusted source who’s close to the production of the Apple TV+ broadcasts whether the games are in 4K or HD. We also asked if the games are produced in 1080p HD and then upscaled to 4K for home delivery. (This is what Fox does for its 4K broadcasts.)
The answer: “The Apple games are in 1080p, 60fps.” (60 fps is the frame rate, which is the best rate to display rapid movement, which baseball tends to have.)
The source added that there is no 4K upscaling being done.
So, yes, the Apple TV+ picture for MLB is exceptional, a testament to how good 1080p HD can look when done right. Perhaps not as good as a quality 4K picture, but still pretty darn good.
Jeremy, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann