TV Answer Man, I couldn’t believe there were not any NFL games in 4K during the first week of games. Please tell me that will change in week two! There will be some games, right?! — David, Buffalo.
David, you’re right. CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN did not offer a single NFL game in 4K during the first week of the season.
And guess what? There won’t be any NFL games in 4K during week two, either.
I understand how frustrating this is for 4K enthusiasts, particularly those who know that Fox, NBC and ESPN are doing college football games in the format. But the fact remains that the networks do not see the value in producing regular season NFL games in 4K. They believe that the 4K audience is a niche audience and will not help generate a significant increase in viewers or advertising.
College football is somewhat different because the games are usually national broadcasts (unlike most NFL games which air regionally in specific markets), which makes it easier to justify the extra expense, manpower and equipment needed to do a 4K production.
I don’t expect to see a 4K NFL game until — maybe — the Fox Thanksgiving game, a scheduled national broadcast. (Yes, there will be national broadcasts before that, but the national/regional schedule is not always certain ahead of time.) Since Fox used to do Thursday Night Football games in 4K (Amazon now has the rights), it’s possible the network will commit to one 4K regular season game in 2022. However, Fox has not announced that the turkey game will be in 4K so it’s no guarantee.
It’s possible that we won’t see a 4K game until the playoffs. But there is some good news there. Fox has the Super Bowl this year and it’s a likely bet to do the big game in 4K. (Fox is the only network that has done the Super Bowl in 4K — in 2020.)
As for CBS, NBC and ESPN/ABC, they have never done a single regular season NFL game in 4K and that doesn’t look like it will change anytime soon. NBC and ESPN’s games are national broadcasts so you would hope that network executives might see the benefit — at some point! — to do their games in 4K. But they might be hesitating because once they do one game in 4K, people will expect them to commit to the format for the entire schedule. And that would get costly.
Amazon, which has the TNF games now, has already said it won’t do them in 4K this season. Peacock, the TV Answer Man has learned, isn’t likely to do live sports in 4K until 2023 at the earliest.
David, sorry I can’t be more optimistic. But happy viewing and stay safe!|
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— Phillip Swann