TV Answer Man, will the TCU-Georgia college football championship game be in 4K? If so, will it be the Skycam 4K or will it be the regular broadcast shown on ESPN? — Dale, Chesapeake, Virginia.
Dale, ESPN will broadcast the TCU-Georgia college football championship at 7:30 p.m. ET from SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. Top-ranked Georgia (14-0) is a 13-point favorite although the now second ranked Horned Frogs of TCU enter the game at 13-1 after upsetting then second-ranked Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl on December 31.
In the last several years, ESPN has provided the championship game in 4K as part of its MegaCast broadcast which includes different angles and perspectives on different channels. But will the sports network provide a 4K feed of the game this year?
ESPN yesterday confirmed to the TV Answer Man that it will provide a 4K feed of next week’s college football championship game. A spokesperson said the 4K broadcast will not be ESPN’s main feed. Instead, it will feature the network’s ‘SkyCam,’ which is a camera system suspended over the field and controlled by a computer.
This is what ESPN has done with the 4K broadcast of the championship in past years, but the use of the Skycam is somewhat controversial. Some fans love it because it can create the feeling of being close to the field. But others would prefer the regular ESPN broadcast being available in 4K because it provides more coverage and camera angles.
But with live 4K sporting events still a relative rarity, beggars can’t be choosers.
DIRECTV, Comcast, YouTube TV and Verizon are among the TV providers expected to carry the ESPN 4K feed on special 4K channels which can be seen with 4K TVs and 4K-enabled set-tops or streaming devices. Unlike Fox, ESPN does not stream live 4K sporting events on its apps or web site. The only way to watch them is if your TV provider offers the 4K version on the provider’s 4K channel.
(ESPN will simulcast the game in HD on the main ESPN channel and offer different views on other ESPN channels as part of the Megacast presentation.)
For 4K videophiles, the ESPN broadcast of the championship game means it will be available in ‘native 4K’ — the game will be produced and aired in 4K rather than ‘upconverted’ from HD to the format. In contrast, Fox’s college football 4K broadcasts are produced in 1080p and then upconverted to 4K.
The native 4K broadcast should feature a smoother and sharper resolution than one that is upconverted to 4K.
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— Phillip Swann