You might have heard that this month’s Winter Olympics in Pyongyang, South Korea, will embrace a significant 4K broadcasting rollout—which might make it one of many world’s first main sporting occasions to get full 4K and HDR help. Sports activities are distinctive within the 4K ecosystem for 2 causes: as a result of extra pixels really repay for common viewers when wide-angled views of high-speed sports activities, and since so few sports activities are filmed with 4K-friendly cameras.
After all, one motive they’re uncommon is as a result of present over-the-air and cable broadcasting requirements max out properly under 4K decision and with out help for HDR. So how precisely can sports activities followers entry the world’s most high-res determine skating and hockey?
With solely days to go earlier than the Olympics kick-off, American paid-TV carriers are scrambling to reply that precise query, and we have summed up the data out there thus far—all whereas making an attempt (and failing) to safe our personal 4K Olympics entry.
Satellite tv for pc choices, 4K limits
Unsurprisingly, because the proprietor of the Winter Olympics’ main broadcaster in america, Comcast has a fairly large stake in how one can get your palms on 4K Olympic content material. Comcast introduced on January 22 that it will function the middleman between the filming manufacturing crews (Olympic Broadcasting Companies, NHK Japan) and any US “distribution companions who will individually select how they are going to make the content material out there to their prospects.” Comcast subsidiary NBC later confirmed that this implies no 4K entry via non-ISP sources, significantly NBCOlympics.com.
Regardless of the place you watch your 4K Olympics feed, nonetheless, be warned: not each sport might be aired in 4K, and not one of the 4K sports activities will broadcast reside. As an alternative, the entire content material might be made out there “on delay.” Anyone who has a selected curiosity in 4K-resolution Olympics will arguably want to remain off of social media and sports-score websites for the month of February.
As of press time, solely two American TV suppliers exterior of Comcast have confirmed that they will serve 4K/HDR Olympics content material. Satellite tv for pc supplier DirecTV waited till this previous Saturday to substantiate to viewers—in a discover buried in its customer support boards—that 4K and HDR Olympics content material will broadcast on its 4K-supported channel 106. Whereas that channel is typically restricted to subscribers of DirecTV’s “Final” tier, posts on the firm’s boards counsel that such a tier requirement could also be lifted all through the Olympics’ period. At that time, customers might want to have both a Genie HD DVR (mannequin HR54 or above) or 4K Genie Mini set-top field.
The opposite non-Comcast supplier, Dish Community, waited till this week to substantiate its 4K Olympics participation. Dish prospects might want to use a Hopper three set-top field to entry 4K/HDR Olympic programming on its channel 100.
Neither of these suppliers seems to supply an on-demand option to entry this delayed 4K Olympics content material, and, as of press time, neither supplier has up to date its set-top channel guides to incorporate precise schedules for its respective channels. The closest we at the moment have is an unconfirmed content material checklist from TVAnswerMan.com, which confirms what NBC has beforehand acknowledged: that the 4K content material might be restricted to the opening ceremonies, determine skating, brief observe, ski leaping, and ice hockey. Sorry, curling followers. (TVAnswerMan’s schedule doesn’t embrace a time zone.)
Comcast could be just right for you—however not for me
Comcast seems to be the only real American supplier to supply on-demand viewing of those sports activities’ occasions as soon as their delays are up, versus making prospects schedule precise recording instances on DVR. Nevertheless, I will not be capable to show that… as Comcast has confirmed to Ars Technica that, in my house city of Seattle, the corporate’s community “shouldn’t be arrange” to help 4K content material.
Figuring this out required 47 minutes on a number of Comcast customer support calls wherein I used to be bounced to a number of reps. Most of them did not perceive what sort of TV viewing I sought. (One among them requested me questions on this “4D” tv I used to be speaking about.) The primary agent advised I exploit Xfinity Immediate TV, which is an app-only option to entry Comcast’s TV content material, however I reminded her that this app does not help a 4K sign. The second agent suggested me to make the most of a sure URL to entry paid TV content material, however it did not work, as I do not at the moment pay for Comcast TV companies. Then I used to be instructed besides a Netflix app via an Xfinity X1 set-top field however, once more, I do not pay for Comcast TV companies, not to mention have an X1 field.
A supervisor was higher capable of break down the particular issues I would want: a 4K-compatible X1 set-top field, a subscription to any Comcast tv bundle (even probably the most fundamental one), and help for 4K content material in my area’s community. Even supposing my house Web connection peaks at 250Mbps and might chew via Netflix and Amazon Video 4K content material, nonetheless, Comcast apparently does not have its Seattle community geese in a row—no less than, in line with the supervisor who tried to promote me a $69.95/mo “fundamental cable” service as a no-contract-required add-on. (That insane quantity wouldn’t have even included the price of leasing an X1 field.)
This supply methodology, by the way in which, differs from Comcast’s supply of 4K content material for the 2016 Summer time Olympics in Rio. For these video games, Comcast required use of a smart-TV app constructed into sure Samsung and LG TVs, and thus, that sign was solely depending on Web streaming. (DirecTV and Dish delivered their very own 4K feeds for the Rio video games practically the very same approach they’re doing this 12 months.)
Comcast doesn’t at the moment present a way for customers to find out whether or not their area’s community helps a 4K sign to X1 bins. As of press time, Comcast’s PR division had not definitively answered whether or not I had any 4K Olympics choices at my present tackle.
Thus, for now, I will not be capable to reply a few of my main 4K Olympic questions: will these suppliers ship a real 2160p sign or one that’s pockmarked with compression artifacts? How properly will the OBS and NHK Japan digicam crews seize and render a full HDR spectrum of colour gamut? And the way a lot simpler will or not it’s to observe that tiny little hockey puck with the advantage of 4K readability? (I preferred the silly Fox Sports activities “glow puck” from the ’90s. Sue me.)
Ought to my entry or choices change, relaxation assured: we’ll return with a better take a look at the primary HDR-enabled Olympic video games.