By The TV Answer Man team
TV Answer Man, I don’t understand why ESPN+ doesn’t have games in 4K on the app? That would make it much more valuable and easier to charge more money, right? Peacock has 4K now. Why not ESPN+ — Tommy, Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Tommy, ESPN+, the streaming service for the sports network, charges $9.99 a month although it does not include all live sporting events broadcast by ESPN. You might think that ESPN+ would add live sports in 4K to justify its cost but, unlike Peacock, it hasn’t offered a single event in 4K to date. There are some economic and logistical reasons for this and here they are:
ESPN broadcasts about 20 college football and basketball games every year in 4K. The 4K feeds are carried by several TV providers, including DIRECTV, Comcast, YouTube TV and Dish, among others. If ESPN+ carried those games in 4K as well, it would create competition for the providers which might then balk at paying the carriage fees if they were available on the network’s own streaming service. Having the ESPN 4K games on their own special 4K channels makes them more valuable to the TV providers.
Producing content in 4K resolution requires significant investments in new cameras, equipment, and post-production processes. For many TV networks, especially smaller ones or those with limited budgets, making the transition to 4K can be financially daunting. The costs involved in shooting, editing, and storing large 4K files are substantial and can deter networks from upgrading their entire content libraries. ESPN is likely reluctant to make the investment necessary to produce more events in 4K which could be added to ESPN+.
Limited Audience Adoption
While 4K TVs are in scores of millions of homes, not every viewer has made the switch yet, and not every viewer who has a 4K TV actually watches shows and sports in the format. As long as a considerable portion of the audience still uses older HD or Full HD TVs, or is content with watching high-def programming, TV networks are hesitant to invest in 4K content or spend on system improvements such as a 4K feature on the ESPN+ app.
Bandwidth and Streaming Challenges
4K content demands significantly higher bandwidth for streaming without buffering issues. In regions with slow internet speeds or limited bandwidth availability, streaming 4K content can lead to a poor user experience. TV networks need to consider the accessibility of their content to a wide audience, and in some cases, 4K streaming might not be viable for a majority of viewers.
Storage and Server Space
Storing 4K content on the app requires substantial server space. Networks need to upgrade their storage infrastructure to accommodate the larger file sizes associated with higher resolutions. This means additional costs not only for the storage itself but also for the maintenance and management of these servers.
Licensing and Distribution Issues
Acquiring rights to broadcast or stream content in 4K resolution on the ESPN+ app might involve renegotiating contracts with production companies and content creators. This process can be complex and time-consuming, leading some TV networks to delay the transition to 4K until these issues are resolved.
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