By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, will there be an ESPN game in 4K this week and are they doing the games in native 4K or not? — Kerry, Toledo.
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 Arkansas-LSU game this Saturday at 7 p.m. ET in 4K. DIRECTV, DIRECTV Stream, Dish, Comcast, Verizon, Optimum and YouTube TV are expected to offer the 4K broadcast on special 4K channels. (Check your on-screen guide for more details.) The game will be simulcast in HD on ESPN. Both teams are 2-1 but ESPN’s Matchup Predictor says 12th ranked LSU has a 88.3 percent chance of winning.
In the last 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, it’s unclear if ESPN is now upscaling the games in 4K rather than doing the native 4K broadcasts. To this reporter, the picture for the first two 4K broadcasts of this season have not looked as sharp as some 2022 4K games, although it was still heads and shoulders above HD. We asked ESPN two weeks ago 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.
Kerry, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann