Super Bowl LVII will take place on Sunday, February 12, when soccer fans will be able to see the mighty Kansas City Chiefs take on the equally mighty Philadelphia Eagles. It promises to be an exciting match that will be watched by over 100 million viewers in the USA on TV screens big and small.
Good news this year for owners best 4K TVs is that the game will be broadcast in 4K Ultra HD with Dolby Vision High Dynamic Range. Think how amazing it will look – every detail, from the grid of the players’ uniforms to the stadium lights reflecting off their helmets, should be visible with vivid, surprising clarity. But there’s a catch: only subscribers to Comcast’s Xfinity X1 cable service will be able to watch the game in Dolby Vision HDR.
According to Dolby, Comcast customers will need a compatible Xfinity X1 cable box and of course a compatible TV to experience the goodness of Dolby Vision HDR while watching Super Bowl 2023.
However, those who don’t subscribe to Comcast cable won’t be completely cut off from 4K and HDR gaming. Apps like YouTube TV and fuboTV allow you to stream sports events normally watched on TV and cable. Many viewers will be watching the game this way on February 12, and Fox Sports, which has the rights to broadcast Super Bowl LVII, will also make the game available in 4K on its Fox Sports app – just not with Dolby Vision. Instead, HDR10’s underlying high dynamic range will be used, a format supported by virtually all 4K TVs, including those compatible with Dolby Vision.
But wait – there’s another catch. While the idea of 4K football, with nothing less than Dolby Vision, is exciting, what Fox Sports will be streaming on February 12 will be plain high-definition video. The reason for this is that big sporting events like the Super Bowl require a large number of cameras to capture the action from every possible angle – including drones – and 1080p is an easier production format to work with than 4K. Fox Sports has already streamed this year’s NFL playoff games in converted 4K, and did the same in 2020, which was the last time the network aired the Super Bowl.
Analysis: More sports should be broadcast in 4K – and HDR
Super Bowl LVII treated with Dolby Vision is an interesting change that has been waiting for a long time. As TVs get bigger and brighter and come with extras like Dolby Vision HDR, sports fans should expect premium events like the Super Bowl to be broadcast in the highest possible quality. Even inexpensive TVs now support Dolby Vision, and anyone with a compatible TV will surely want to take advantage of this picture-enhancing feature.
Limiting Dolby Vision’s Super Bowl debut to a single cable TV service, however, seems odd. Viewers have been cutting the cord en masse over the last decade best streaming services intensified their efforts to provide a real alternative to subscription cable TV packages. I quit mine many years ago and have never looked back. But Super Bowl LVII in Dolby Vision is something I’d love to see, and now I feel a pang of regret that I won’t be able to watch the game in premium HDR format.
While true 4K movies and TV shows – with no up-conversion – are easy to come by on streaming services, 4K sports streams are slow to emerge. The The FIFA World Cup was presented in 4K and HDR in 2022, but could only be streamed via the BBC iPlayer app. (Fox Sports in the US showed the same but re-converted from 1080p and was also broadcast in Dolby Vision by Comcast.)
While cable providers and streaming services are slowly moving closer to showcasing sports in 4K and HDR, US digital TV broadcasters are proving to be even slower. next generation ATSC 3.0 digital television standard in the US, it supports 4K and HDR broadcasting, as well as immersive Dolby Atmos audio, but we have yet to see TV stations make the transition from the legacy HD-only ATSC 1.0 broadcast format to take advantage of these capabilities. In fact, things got so bad that the National Broadcasting Association did called ATSC 3.0 transition “stalled” and asked the FCC to form a task force to expedite the process.
Ultra-high definition 4K with HDR is the future of sports broadcasting – our TVs have long supported both, and many streaming services easily provide both options for many non-sports programmes. Watching games in these formats would be a welcome advancement, and while you’re at it broadcaster, add Dolby Atmos audio to the mix.