TV Answer Man, I haven’t seen any articles from you on this week’s ESPN 4K game for college basketball? Can you please let us know what the game will be? And why doesn’t ESPN do more 4K games like Fox does? — Jamal, Detroit.
Jamal, as you may know, ESPN usually does one college basketball game in 4K per week during the regular season, starting in January. (The sports network also had a 4K game of the week during most of the college football regular season.) The first 4K game of the week this season was the Kentucky-Tennessee matchup from last Saturday.
The 4K broadcast is available on special 4K channels from select pay TV providers, including DIRECTV, Comcast, Verizon and YouTube TV. (Unlike Fox, ESPN does not provide a 4K stream on its apps, ESPN or ESPN+.)
However, today is Wednesday and ESPN hasn’t announced what this week’s 4K game of the week will be. So your favorite TV Answer Man today asked an ESPN spokesperson for the scoop. Her response:
“The next 4K game is Kansas at Kentucky on Jan. 28 (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET). There is not a 4K game this weekend,” she said.
This leads to your question: Why doesn’t ESPN offer more college basketball games in 4K?
Unlike Fox, ESPN does native 4K broadcasts, which means it’s broadcast on site in 4K as well as transmitted to the home in the format. (Fox upscales the on-site 1080p HDR, High Dynamic Range, broadcast to 4K HDR for the home transmission.) The native 4K broadcast requires more preparation and expense than the upscaled edition, which is a major reason why ESPN does fewer 4K games than Fox’s multiple 4K games per week.
(ESPN this season has also upped its game by adding HDR to the native 4K feed.)
And in case you’re wondering, many videophiles say the upscaled 4K picture is not as sharp as the native 4K image. But Fox’s inclusion of HDR can offer heightened colors and vividness.
Jamal, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann