NBC Sports has confirmed to The Verge that the 2022 Super Bowl will not be televised or streamed in 4K this year when it takes place on February 13th. The absence of a 4K feed marks the second year in a row that the big game will not be accessible in the higher resolution.
NBC Sports representative Dan Masonson informed reporters, “The game will not be in 4K.”
NBC, which is hosting this year’s Super Bowl, has never shown an NFL game in 4K or HDR, despite hosting the nationally televised Sunday Night Football game every week throughout the regular season. For what it’s worth, NBC isn’t the only network that doesn’t broadcast in 4K: CBS doesn’t broadcast any of its games in 4K (the network cited COVID-19 difficulties as the reason for the lack of a 4K Super Bowl in 2021), and ESPN doesn’t broadcast Monday Night Football in 4K.
In 2019, Fox Sports began showing some of its Thursday Night Football games in 4K, and three seasons later, it remains the only network to broadcast NFL games in 4K/HDR. Even so, there are limitations: Fox does it exclusively for a few Thursday night games — including Super Bowl 2020, which will be the first Super Bowl broadcast in 4K — and the film is actually shot in 1080p and HDR, then upscaled to 4K for transmission, rather than pure, native 4K video.
Even yet, considering that NBC has begun to gradually extend its 4K sports offerings, there was some hope that the network might be able to pull off Super Bowl LVI in 4K. The network has previously announced intentions to broadcast substantial chunks of the forthcoming Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in 4K, as well as a (very messy) schedule of 4K content from last year’s Tokyo Olympics.
Part of the issue is that NBC still doesn’t have a 4K distribution mechanism for the great majority of viewers; last year’s Olympic broadcasts were in 4K and HDR (with Dolby Atmos in select events), but the 4K content wasn’t available in any of NBC’s apps (including the regular NBC app, the NBC Sports app, and Peacock). Rather, 4K broadcasts were confined to Altice, Xfinity, Fubo TV, YouTube TV, DIRECTV, Dish, and other 4K-capable cable and over-the-top services. Even back then, coverage was restricted to certain events occurring at specified times in specific television areas.
Plus, as the lone 4K Super Bowl in 2020 demonstrated, broadcasting one of the biggest sporting events of the year to the millions of viewers is a massive undertaking: there are dozens of cameras and slow-motion shots for instant replays, graphics packages, and, of course, the halftime show and slew of commercials, all of which must be combined into a cohesive 4K and HDR package.
However, there is some good news for football enthusiasts on the horizon: Super Bowl LVII is planned to air on Fox in 2023, which might bring us back to a 4K game day – if we’re lucky!