TV Answer Man, I am excited about Apple getting Major League Soccer games. Do you know if the games will be in 4K? — Paul, Reston, Virginia. 

Paul, Apple announced this week that it has signed a 10-year agreement with Major League Soccer that will make the Apple TV app the carrier of every live MLS match starting with the 2023 season. The tech giant didn’t reveal how much the games will cost consumers but said they will be available without any local broadcast blackouts.

The Apple press release did not say if the games would be available in 4K, 1080p or other HD formats, nor have company officials commented publicly on possible picture formats. However, The Athletic reports that MLS, which will handle the broadcasts, is planning to produce them in 1080p, the best available high-def format.

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But that doesn’t mean that the games, or at least, some of the games won’t be in 4K. Fox produces some sporting events, such as MLB games, NASCAR races and USFL football, in 1080p but upscales them to 4K for home delivery. MLB Network does the same for its ‘Showcase’ games which are available on DIRECTV and YouTube TV.

Upscaling 1080p to 4K is becoming more popular in the TV industry. The fact that MLS is planning to do the games in 1080p, rather than 1080i or 720p, could suggest it’s planning an upscale.

(Why do some networks do 4K upscales instead of ‘native’ 4K, which is when the event is produced in 4K and distributed to the home in 4K? It’s cheaper, and some 4K enthusiasts say the upscale can look just as good as a native 4K broadcast, particularly if it’s done with HDR, High Dynamic Range, which can enhance the colors.)

It’s possible that MLS will produce its games in 1080p and upscale them for Apple. Since the 2023 season is months away, it’s also possible that MLS will eventually decide to produce some games in 4K.

Bottom line: It’s simply too early to say definitively whether Apple’s MLS streams will be in 4K or not.

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

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— Phillip Swann