TV Answer Man, do you know if ESPN will have a 4K college basketball game this week and if so, what will be the game? — Harold, College Park, Maryland.
Harold, ESPN usually does one college basketball game in 4K every Saturday 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 on January 14 while game two was last Saturday between Kansas and Kentucky.
The ESPN 4K broadcasts will continue this Saturday (February 4) with the North Carolina at Duke all-ACC matchup at 6:30 p.m. ET. (ESPN will simulcast the game in high-def on the main ESPN channel.) Both teams are 15-6, but ESPN’s Matchup Predictor gives Duke a 68.5 percent chance of winning.
The 4K feed will be 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+.
Also 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 could be a reason why ESPN does one 4K game each week rather than Fox’s multiple 4K games per week.
And in case you’re wondering, many videophiles say the upscaled 4K picture is not as sharp as the native 4K image. But the inclusion of HDR can offer heightened colors and vividness. ESPN’s 4K broadcasts this season also include HDR.
Harold, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann