TV Answer Man, we have cut the cord and use an antenna with Netflix and Hulu for our television viewing. But I would like to watch the Super Bowl in 4K on Fox. Can you do that with an antenna? Will the Fox signal be in 4K on the antenna? Or do you need one of those new NextGen 3.0 antenna and tuner systems? — Gordon, Concord, New Hampshire. 

Gordon, Fox does have the broadcast rights to Sunday’s Super Bowl from Glendale, Arizona. The Philadelphia Eagles will play the Kansas City Chiefs with kickoff scheduled around 6:30 p.m. ET.

The network will offer a high-def and 4K feed of the game. The 4K feed can be seen on the Fox Now and Fox Sports apps as well as special 4K channels on Comcast’s Xfinity, Cox, DIRECTV, Dish, FuboTV, Verizon, Altice’s Optium and YouTube TV.

But while you can get the high-def signal from Fox using a TV antenna (or a pay TV service), you will not be able to watch the 4K broadcast on an antenna. Unfortunately, Fox, nor its local affiliates, transmits 4K feeds via an antenna, whether it’s from the old (but still used) ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Commitee) 1.0 signal or the new NextGen ATSC 3.0 antenna/tuner. As this TV Technology article points out, 4K has not been a priority in the transition to NextGen TV.

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By the way, Fox produces most of its sporting events, including NFL games and college games, in 1080p and ‘upscales’ it to a 4K broadcast as opposed to shooting the event in 4K and transmitting in the same format. Upscaling is the process when one video format is converted to another. In this case, Fox takes the 1080p signal and converts it to a 4K format.

Upscaling 4K is different than what’s called, native 4K, which means the original event was produced in 4K, and broadcast or streamed in 4K as well. This is how ESPN produces its 4K sportscasts.

While some videophiles prefer native 4K over upscaled 4K, Fox’s 4K broadcasts are done with HDR (High Dynamic Range) which can provide a more vivid picture, particularly more intense colors. If it’s done right, the picture can be more dynamic and evocative.

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Gordon, sorry to disappoint you about the antenna. However, let me add that if you do watch the game using an antenna, the high-def picture should be better than if you watch it using a cable or satellite service. An antenna usually delivers a purer picture.

Hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann