TV Answer Man, I watched the Fox 4K Big East games today (Wednesday) and I loved the picture. Do you know if ESPN will have any of the college basketball tournament games in 4K? — Robert, Pittsburgh.
Robert, ESPN this season has the broadcast rights to several college basketball tournaments including the ACC, the Big 12, the Pac 12 and Metro Atlantic, among others. The sports network has also done a weekly college basketball game in 4K during the regular season.
So will any of the tournament games be available in 4K?
The ESPN 4K broadcasts will continue this Saturday (March 11) with the ACC conference final at 8:30 p.m. ET. (ESPN will simulcast the game in high-def on the main ESPN channel.) A network spokesperson tells the TV Answer Man that the ACC final will be the only tournament game in 4K on ESPN.)
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.
Robert, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann