Skip to main content

How to set up your TV for Super Bowl Sunday

Super Bowl LVI is well on its way, due for broadcast on February 13, 2022. And if you’re planning a big game day, then your TV needs to be ready, too. It doesn’t matter how large your current TV is or how expensive it might have been, there are still settings you can change to help improve the picture, specifically for sports like football.

In this guide, we’re going over the easy, effective ways you can switch up your TV settings to make sure they’re perfect for the Super Bowl and other important football events. Let’s get started!

TV picture settings on an LG OLED TV.
Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

Pick the cinema or movie TV mode

Start by choosing the overall TV mode for watching the Super Bowl. A lot of TVs come with a dedicated Sports mode. Do not choose that. Sports modes tend to boost brightness and color settings too high and create a janky, unnatural image.

Instead, start with the Cinema or Movie mode on your TV as a baseline. If you have a Natural mode, that also works well. This will help give you the most realistic results.

Note that the 2022 Super Bowl broadcaster is NBC, and while it will not be offering the big game in 4K, you’ll still want to make sure you are tuned into the broadcaster’s HD channel when the day arrives.

You can also stream the game on apps like Peacock, YouTube TV, and more, so there are plenty of options. If you have a 4K TV, you’ll want to read our guide on how to watch the Super Bowl in 4K, the advantages of upscaling, and other important info.

Tweak contrast/white level for detail

If you are ready to head into deeper settings, start with Contrast/White Level (these both mean the same thing, but different TVs may use different terms).

Contrast should be low enough to make out every detail while still maintaining a bright image that will show clearly in a well-lit room. Start by finding and freezing on an image with lots of white and light colors: It could be a picture of a sky filled with clouds, for example, or a procession with lots of white gowns.

An image of clouds and sky is good for setting your TV's brightness and contrast levels.

Now, lower your contrast down until you can easily see all the little details, like small changes in shadow and every shade of off-white in those clouds or other subjects. Now keep an eye on the screen and start increasing contrast to improve brightness. When those little details start disappearing, you’ve started to go too far. Adjust back a bit to find the golden zone.

Adjust brightness/black level for realistic black shades

Next, it’s time to take a look at Brightness/Black Level, which involves a similar process to adjust contrast. This time, you will want to find and freeze on a scene with plenty of black and shadows in it, like a nighttime scene or a noir bar scene.

Turn the brightness up until you can see every single detail in the night scene and all the subtle changes in shadow. Now start turning it down until you get blacks down to a realistic level while still getting all the detail. Once you start losing the details on shadow gradients, it’s time to stop.

Robert Pattinson in The Batman.

Adjust the tint/saturation for natural skin tone

Many TVs also have settings for Tint/Saturation. These can be a little more difficult to tweak: You can just leave these settings in the middle range and not worry about them. But if you have a little extra time, freeze an image that shows someone’s face or another shot with human skin in it. Adjust the tint until the skin tones look as natural as possible — that will be your sweet spot.

Turn off enhancement modes

Check to see if your TV has any enhancement modes. These go by a number of names, like smoothing, noise reduction, image enhancement, judder reduction, and so on. Modern TVs rarely benefit from these modes, and they can do weird things to image quality, blurring out detail or undoing the other settings work you’ve accomplished. Turn them all off unless you really need them.

Choose a warm color temperature

Not all TVs have a Color Temperature option, but if yours does, then you can also tweak it for better results. Sometimes Color Temperature is also called Color Tone. Make sure it’s set to Warm or Low to help keep whites looking natural.

Audio

Unlike image quality, there’s not much tweaking you can do on your TV for audio. If you have a surround sound system or larger stereo system, it may come with several presets for audio that you can try out. Once, again, the Sports mode isn’t always the best for audio. You want a mode that decreases background crowd noise while enhancing the announcers and what the on-field mics are picking up, like the thwack of the ball when it’s kicked. You may want to find a football game on TV and switch between audio settings to see which one works the best. Avoid any “clarity” mode for speech, as it can mess with audio levels.

If you really want a sound upgrade, take a look at our list of the best soundbars. They can provide excellent audio in a variety of situations without taking up too much room.

Editors' Recommendations