Super Bowl LII Came And Went Without A 4K HDR Broadcast In Sight

by on February 4, 2018
Stephan Jukic – February 4, 2018

What we do know is that Super Bowl LII was recorded in 4K Ultra HD, with HDR mastering done as well. Even last year’s Super Bowl got this treatment and the cameras needed for delivering just this were scattered all around the stadium again this year.

Despite this, what was again be absent for this year’s game was a live broadcast version of all those 4K HDR recordings. We’re not even sure about a slightly delayed canned recording in the new resolution or high dynamic range. For millions of people who already own a 4K HDR TV (and almost all new TV releases for 2017 and early 2018 have had at least one of these two technologies in them), this little detail about this year’s Super Bowl kickoff might just be annoying as hell.

Again, U.S Bank Stadium had 4K HDR cameras capturing the whole shebang, and all that footage is going to be used by someone, but none of the broadcasters with licenses to stream or beam Super Bowl LII gave it to the wider world of the viewing public in its full glory. Instead, the picture from the recordings was downscaled to lower resolutions for all TV and online broadcasts and the best you could hope for as a 4K TV owner was whatever extra sharpness your television’s native upscaling engine provided.

Since the broadcasts of the game were downscaled from real native 4K original video, that resolution upscaling on your television might just have been fairly helpful. In fact we know that downscaled native 4K content tends to look finer than mere native 1080p video, whether it’s viewed on a 1080p TV or upscaled again on a 4K display. However, despite these digital acrobatics, it still won’t quite be the same thing as the real deal.


What’s interesting about this decision by NBC and others is that they already had plenty of reasons to just offer a full 4K transmission. The upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang will be available in native 4K HDR and they’re getting a live broadcast in the same month by the same broadcaster. And as for there being enough of a U.S or Worldwide audience for 4K broadcasts of the Super Bowl, well yes, yes there is. 4K TV sales are at an all-time high and the number of homes even in the U.S alone with 4K HDR TVs up and running numbers in the millions at this point.

In other words, what could have finally been the most visually spectacular Super Bowl ever broadcast, was even at its best public broadcast settings only more or less the same thing as last year’s Super Bowl in different team colors.

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