Super Bowl 2022 is coming up, and it’s easier than ever to watch the big game in detailed resolution. Pair something like 4K with a quality HDTV, and you’ll see things so clearly you’ll be able to call the plays yourself — it’s the perfect setup for game day.
But for 4K, you’ll need to know where and how to watch the Super Bowl first, along with what limitations the broadcaster, NBC, has in place, and what kind of entertainment system can make the best of it. Our guide will show everything you need, including the right devices and where to go for the highest-resolution game footage!
Note that this is all independent of the two teams playing in Super Bowl LVI. Neither the Cincinnati Bengals nor the L.A. Rams have anything to do with when, where or how the game is being broadcast. They’re just happy to be there, as the cliche goes. And that’s particularly true for the Bengals, who haven’t been to a Super Bowl since 1989, and have lost both title matches in which they’ve played.
First — is Super Bowl 2022 being broadcast in 4K? Not exactly. Big games like this are rarely (if ever, so far) broadcast in full 4K resolution. Fox had an upscaled feed for the Super Bowl in 2020, for example. The Olympics were available in 4K and, in certain cases, even 8K, so the technology is certainly there. But the Super Bowl requires speedy organization by the networks involved, and sometimes 4K isn’t in the cards.
We saw this in 2021, when CBS announced that it would not be showing the Super Bowl in 4K due to production issues and problems with the COVID-19 pandemic. That seems like an odd excuse, but it looks like the same thing is happening this year, too. NBC has indicated that Super Bowl LVI will not be shown in 4K.
So does that mean your dreams of the big game in 4K are over? There’s still some hope, thanks to upscaling. which is the trick some TVs do to turn an HD, 1080p signal into a higher-resolution image on a 4K TV. There are different approaches to upscaling, but essentially it adds enough detail so that an HD picture can fill up a 4K screen, and the image often benefits from increased clarity.
In other words, there is still a big advantage to watching the Super Bowl on a 4K TV. You just have to have the right parts.
Finding a 4K TV is pretty easy, right? It says “4K” in big letters. There are also plenty of 4K TV deals available right now to take advantage of the playoff season. Frankly, it’s hard not to trip over a 4K this time of year.
But remember, we’re primarily interested in upscaling, and every brand approaches upscaling a little differently. Sony uses something called “4K X-Reality Pro” while LG has “Alpha 9 processor” for its OLED TVs, and so on. Generally, you want a newer, more powerful processor for the best upscaling, especially if you have a larger TV where the processor is going to do a lot of work. LG’s Gen-4 Alpha 9 processor, Samsung’s Quantum processor, and Sony’s X1 processor are all good picks for the best results. However, as long as your TV isn’t several years old, it should be able to handle game day upscaling without much trouble. We have a guide to the best TVs to watch the Super Bowl on.
When it comes to panel quality, an option like OLED or QLED will generally give you the best colors, contrast, and brightness management on a TV. That’s especially handy if you will be watching the big game in the afternoon or in a brightly lit room and want to catch every detail.
The size of the TV also matters, but as long as your TV measures around 50 inches or so, you’ll be able to take full advantage of all those 4K pixels. For more details on buying a 4K TV, what size is right, and what specs are the most important, you can consult our full guide on choosing the right 4K TV.
When possible, your input devices should also support 4K and HDR capabilities for the best results. If you’re connecting your TV right to your cable box or satellite dish, there’s not much you can do here other than work with what you have.
If you are using a set-top box or receiver, check that it supports 4K, too. Sometimes this is very obvious — the Apple TV 4K has it right in the name. Set-top boxes and receivers will have capabilities engraved on the devices themselves, so you should be able to spot support for 4K and HDR just by looing for the words.
If you are watching from a gaming console, both the current and the previous generations will support 4K with no trouble.
You probably don’t have to consider your cables unless they haven’t been updated in long, long time. TV connections are generally managed via HDMI, and HDMI has supported 4K for many years. For the best results, you may want to make sure that your HDMI cables are HDMI 2.0 or 2.1, the latest standards with the broadest support. As long as you bought the cable within the last few years, it’s not worth worrying about for game day.
If your cables are nearing a decade old or more and you’re using newer devices, you may want to make a reminder to replace them with a newer version sometime soon.
Super Bowl LVI is available in many different places, and since 4K broadcasts aren’t in the picture, you have your choice about just how you’d like to watch. If you have cable or satellite, you’ll want to know where NBC is for game day. If you’re interested in streaming, our favorite options include:
- Peacock: The Peacock app is where NBC streams most of its content, and it will be showing the 2022 Super Bowl. Peacock does have a free tier, but live sports are traditionally on the Premium tier, so you may have to pay for access. Premium is $5 a month and you can cancel right afterward.
- Sling TV: Sling is a reliable streaming platform that’s available on most devices and generally has solid streaming quality. It also offers a free trial, so you can sign up right before the big game and watch it for free. And if you want to keep watching ,it’s currently offering deals for new subscribers. If you’re still confused about what Sling TV is, we can help.
- YouTube TV: YouTube TV’s quality is excellent and the app is available on many platforms. It also offers a free trial you can subscribe to specifically for the Super Bowl.
Hey, just remember” If you’re streaming the game, you’ll need enough bandwidth to avoid stuttering or freezing problems. That’s worth thinking about if you’re having a party and there are a lot of people over at your house with their own mobile devices in use at the same time.
Both your TV and your input devices may have several different modes that change how an image is optimized. When you are upscaling sports footage, finding the right picture mode can help enhance the result and fix some issues that may arise.
When possible, set your TV to its cinema or movie mode. Yes, many TVs have a sports mode, but sports modes can do weird things like turn on annoying motion smoothers or make colors look unnatural, so they’re best avoided.
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