Special thanks go out to Gary Toma and the rest of his team at iamanedgecutter.com for bringing this issue to my attention.
It’s great that we’re finally seeing some 4K football this year! AT&T will be televising almost every Thursday night game in 4K. This means you’ll catch every play and every replay, in super-sharp 4K. However, there is something you need to know.
A bug that still needs to be squashed
According to the bug trackers at the Edgecutter forums and AT&T’s own forums, you won’t get the real 4K experience unless you’re really careful. There seems to be an issue with the frame rate on DIRECTV’s 4K channel 105. It actually affects all 4K programming created at 60 frames per second, but right now that’s limited to 4K football. It could potentially affect other 4K programming until it is fixed.
Why 60 frames per second is important
When you watch 4K, you want the best possible 4K experience. High frame rates make movement crystal clear. When your eyes are trying to track movement of a tiny ball on a large screen, it’s critical. That’s the reason ESPN, ABC, and FOX use a frame rate of 60 frames per second. ABC, CBS and others broadcast at a higher resolution than ESPN, they also use a lower frame rate which can make fast motion seem less sharp.
What this bug looks like
Here’s the problem in a nutshell (again, thanks to Gary Toma for the top and user johhnyspot for this quote:)
if you tune to channel 105 from a 1080i source channel, channel 105 moves to 4K@24FPS. Which when watching sport is horrible.. If you turn to the channel from a 720P Source channel then 105 displays 4K@60FPS.
In other words… it doesn’t make sense but it seems to matter which channel you were on when you went to 4K channel 105. If you tune from CBS, NBC, or most national channels, you’ll get 24 frames per second. This can make the image really glitchy especially on less expensive TVs.
A simple workaround
If you want to watch 4K football on Thursdays on DIRECTV, tune to your local Fox or ABC affiliate before you tune to the 4K game on channel 105. This should give you the ability to watch that game as it was intended.
Will this be fixed?
I’m sure it will be fixed but it’s not clear when. In the meantime the workaround is easy and doesn’t take more than a few seconds. It’s frustrating but it’s not the end of the world.