Here we are again. Unfortunately this is a question we’ve asked over and over again. Although baseball and basketball have been quick to embrace 4K, it seems like the National Football League just isn’t having it.
Quick answer: NO but please keep reading.
I really doubt we’ll see the Super Bowl in 4K this year. Yes, there always could be surprises but I think that if you were going to see the Super Bowl in 4K this year you would have seen a lot of announcements of it.
Unfortunately a lot of the problems that existed two years ago when I wrote this article are still there. Streaming is still out of the question. Since there are more people streaming than ever and the Super Bowl is the most watched live event of the year, I guarantee that if they tried to stream it in 4K the whole thing would crash.
Not only that, even though most football stadiums come equipped with 4K cameras, production trucks are still largely HD and so is the uplink equipment. Those cameras are used for extra zoom capability, not for high quality.
Probably the biggest deterrent, though, is something I didn’t think about last year.
CBS probably doesn’t want it.
I know, that sounds really stupid, right? But keep in mind that CBS programming appears on independently operated TV stations across the country. Those stations don’t broadcast in 4K. If there was going to be a 4K broadcast of the Super Bowl it would have to be on a separate, dedicated broadcast. Station owners, including CBS itself, would be giving up a huge revenue stream if a portion of those viewers went away from the network feed and instead went to a 4K stream. In many of DIRECTV’s 4K programs, there are no commercials because it’s hard to insert HD content into 4K content in real time. That simply wouldn’t be an option for the largest revenue-producing event of the year.
So what’s it gonna take?
That’s a good question. In order for us to see the Super Bowl in 4K I think it will take 4K over-the-air broadcasting. I’ve been really kind of doubtful that 4K OTA will ever happen. I’m still pretty doubtful, even though it’s “theoretically” moving forward. I think some cities will see some 4K OTA in the coming 12 months. I know the plan is to transition over to a 4K-capable system before 2025.
Does that mean it could be that we won’t see a 4K Super Bowl for 7 years? It very well could. It does seem like when you look at the combination of the technical and contract issues, we’re still a while away from getting that addressed.
If anything changes, you’ll read about it here, of course, but I’m feeling pretty secure in saying that your chances of seeing a 4K Super Bowl this year are, sadly about the same as the chances of seeing our beloved Detroit Lions in the Super Bowl this year.