By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, do you know the ESPN 4K game this week? And will it be in native 4K or upscaled 4K? — Tim, East Lansing, Michigan.
Bob, ESPN has broadcast a 4K college football game for most weeks during the regular season for the last few years plus the national championship in the format. And this week is no different. The sports network will air the Tennessee-Florida game this Saturday at 7 p.m. ET in 4K. DIRECTV, DIRECTV Stream, Optimum and YouTube TV are expected to offer the 4K broadcast on special 4K channels. (Dish and Verizon may also provide the game in 4K. Check your on-screen guide for more details.) The game will be simulcast in HD on ESPN. ESPN’s Matchup Predictor says 11th ranked Tennessee has a 53.8 percent chance of winning.
Now for your second question: For the past few seasons, ESPN has offered the 4K games in ‘native 4K,’ which means they are produced on site with 4K cameras and related equipment and transmitted to the home in 4K. This is in contrast to Fox’s college football broadcasts which are produced in 1080p HD and then upscaled to 4K for the home transmission. While Fox’s upscaled 4K HDR (High Dynamic Range) games offer vivid colors and more intense details than a regular HD broadcast, most 4K fans say ESPN’s native 4K images are even better.
However, there has been chatter on social media that ESPN is now upscaling the games in 4K rather than doing the native 4K broadcasts. To this reporter, the picture for last Saturday’s ESPN 4K broadcast of the Alabama-Texas game did not look as sharp as some 2022 4K games, although it was still heads and shoulders above HD. We asked ESPN last week for a comment on whether the 4K games are still native 4K but have not received a response as of yet. If we do, we will update this article.
Tim, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann