TV Answer Man, is ESPN still doing the 4K college games? What about Fox? Any college basketball in 4K this week on Fox? — Stuart, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Stuart, let’s start with Fox. The network does not plan to do any more college basketball games in 4K this season until the Big Ten and Big East tournaments. The tournament games can be watched in 4K HDR on the Fox Sports and Fox Now apps by using your TV Everywhere user name and password from your pay TV provider.
The pay TV services that are expected to carry both tournaments on special 4K channels are DIRECTV, Dish, Comcast, Verizon, Optimum, YouTube TV, and FuboTV. (In markets where the Fox affiliate is provided with your programming package.) Check your on-screen guide for more details.
As for ESPN, the sports network 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 ESPN 4K broadcasts will continue this Saturday (February 25) with the 12th ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs hosting the 15th ranked Saint Mary’s Gaels at 10 p.m. ET. (ESPN will simulcast the game in high-def on the main ESPN channel.)
The ESPN 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.
Stuart, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann