TV Answer Man, I read your articles on Fox doing the NFL playoff games in 4K. Can you explain to me like I was a six year old how you can actually watch these games in 4K? I am not a tech genius but I would like to watch the games with a better picture. — Daniel, New Haven, Connecticut.
Daniel, you’re right. Fox is broadcasting its entire NFL playoff lineup in upscaled 4K HDR, which means it will be produced on site in 1080p HDR (High Dynamic Range) and converted to 4K HDR for the home transmission. (Native 4K is when the event is produced in the format on site and transmitted in 4K to the home.)
The next two Fox games will be this weekend: The New York Giants vs. the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday at 8:15 p.m. ET and the San Francisco 49ers vs. the Dallas Cowboys at 6:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.
While videophiles prefer native 4K, saying it provides a more realistic picture, many viewers on Sunday raved about Fox’s 4K upscaled picture for the Vikings-Giants game. So it’s definitely worth your time to check out a future 4K broadcast.
With Fox emerging as the leading provider of live 4K events, there has been considerable confusion over who can watch them, and how. Several pay TV providers, including DIRECTV, Comcast, YouTube TV, Fubo TV, Optimum, Dish and Verizon, among others, offer the Fox-produced 4K broadcasts on special 4K channels.
Contact your provider for details on how to get set up for 4K; in the case of the cable and satellite ops, it’s simply a matter of getting the right receiver and package. (And a 4K TV, of course.) For FuboTV and YouTube TV, you need to subscribe to the right package and have a 4K-enabled streaming device, such as the Apple TV 4K or Roku Ultra. (More on that below.) FuboTV’s 4K programming is available in its $84.99 a month plan and above while YouTube TV requires you to purchase a $20 a month 4K add-on plan. (The streamer is offering discounts to select customers.)
But what if you subscribe to a pay TV service that doesn’t offer Fox in 4K, such as Charter’s Spectrum TV, DIRECTV Stream, Sling TV or Hulu Live? Can you still watch 4K on the Fox Sports app?
Yes, but here’s what you need:
1. A pay TV subscription that includes Fox.
You can access the 4K broadcasts on the Fox Sports or Fox Now apps with your pay TV service’s user name and password, even if that service doesn’t offer Fox in 4K in its lineup. This is known as your TV Everywhere credentials. So even if your provider doesn’t offer the 4K games on a special 4K channel, you can still watch them in the format on the app.
If you don’t have a pay TV sub that includes Fox, you’re out of luck.
2. A 4K TV and 4K device that’s compatible with the Fox Sports app.
This is where the confusion usually escalates. Some Smart TVs have the Fox Sports app in their app stores, but they may not be compatible with the 4K broadcasts; you might be able to only watch games in HD using a Fox Sports app from your set’s app store.
To watch a game in 4K on the Fox apps, you need one of the following devices connected to your 4K TV:
Fire TV (GEN 2 and 3)
Fire TV Edition 4K models
Fire TV Stick 4K models (GEN 3)
Apple TV 4K (Apple TV GEN 5)
Roku Streaming Stick+
4K/UHD TV models with Roku OS built-in
Some readers have told me that a few other devices have worked, such as the Nvidia Shield. But the ones listed above are from the Fox web site. So if you’re buying a new device specifically to watch 4K on the Fox app, I would stick to that list.
Daniel, watching 4K can be an enjoyable experience, but few people will say it’s also easy or consistent. Greater technology is usually accompanied by greater complexity and 4K is no different.
Hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at firstname.lastname@example.org Please include your first name and hometown in your message.
— Phillip Swann