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No ultra-HD stream of Super Bowl this year, CBS confirms

ViacomCBS will not offer an ultra-high definition stream of the Super Bowl when it airs on the CBS broadcast network on Sunday, the media company confirmed over the weekend.

The decision not to air the game in ultra-high definition, or “4K,” bucks a trend started last year by Fox Sports, which offered a variant of its Super Bowl broadcast in ultra-high definition last year.

Fox’s broadcast of the Super Bowl match between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs was not entirely ultra-high definition — field cameras used by the sports network and the National Football League were high-definition, and the feed was upconverted with ultra-high definition graphics and animations for delivery through the Fox Sports app.

Fox had experimented with ultra-high definition broadcasts before last year’s telecast of the Super Bowl, and they are considered to be a significant improvement compared to the network’s over-the-air signal, which is relegated to enhanced definition or “720p” for most broadcasts.

CBS, by comparison, broadcasts its national network in full high-definition, or “1080i,” which provides more resolution compared to Fox’s over-the-air signal. But CBS has never offered a sports telecast in ultra-high definition — and it’s not about to start this weekend when it airs a matchup between the reigning champions Kansas City Chiefs and challengers Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But there’s little reason to complain: Like Fox and others have done in the past, CBS will offer free access to its high definition telecast through the CBS Sports app, which is available on most smart TVs, streaming devices, game consoles, phones and tablets. The game will also be streamed on ViacomCBS’ premium streaming service CBS All Access.

Super Bowl LV airs on local CBS affiliates Sunday, February 7, with kickoff at 6:30 p.m. ET (3:30 p.m. PT).

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).