Comcast and Dolby are teaming up to present Xfinity cable TV customers with the first live Super Bowl LVII coverage in Dolby Vision dynamic metadata high dynamic range (HDR).

Comcast announced it will carry Fox Network’s (upcoverterted) 4K broadcast of Super Bowl LVII, which it will supplement with the advanced Dolby Vision flavor of HDR.

Dolby Vision HDR presents a wide contrast range, richer colors and brighter specular highlights delivered on a frame-by-frame, shot-by-shot basis. In contrast, the HDR profile known as HDR10 uses static metadata with images that are graded at one constant level of parameters.

Comcast said: “The difference lies in the workflows used for both {HDR10 and Dolby Vision] content categories, which are designed to meet the needs of each use case. In the case of sports, [a supporting TV will have] the ability to deliver a broadcast live in Dolby Vision. From a consumer perspective, the TV will receive a Dolby Vision signal and deliver the best HDR image the TV is capable of displaying, irrespective of the production technique, live or studio created.”

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Comcast/Xfinity will be using tools provided to it by Dolby to apply the Dolby Vision enhancement to the telecast.

The company said “Comcast is the only operator delivering the Super Bowl in Dolby Vision. Any operator that has deployed live Dolby Vision tools within their workflow can choose to deliver a broadcast in Dolby Vision as long as the content is available and delivered in HDR to them by the rights holder.”

“Xfinity will be the only place where fans can experience FOX’s live 4K coverage of the Super Bowl in best-in-class Dolby Vision HDR,” the cable MSO said in its announcement.

To enjoy the game in Dolby Vision, viewers will need to have Xfinity Cable TV service, a 4K TV with Dolby Vision HDR support and the cable company’s compatible Xfinity X1 gateway box. Xfinity customers with a non-Dolby Vision 4K TV (like a Samsung 4K set) will see the image with the static metadata version of HDR known as HDR10.

Generally speaking, most people won’t be able to tell the difference, but Dolby Vision TVs are specially developed to bring out the best HDR highlights possible for the particular set’s level of picture quality capability.

Finding the Dolby Vision version of the game on Xfinity won’t be difficult. Viewers will need only say “4K” into their X1 remote mic, the company said.

Comcast said: . “if [you] have all eligible equipment, you will also see a prompt on the HD FOX channel asking if [you] want to tune to the 4K channel.”

The signal carried by FOX on its Sports Streaming apps as well as streaming services carrying the feed (like YouTube TV), actually will be showing a Full HD 1080p image that has been upconverted by FOX to 4K resolution before it goes out to a streaming app or to supporting multi-channel programming provider partners.

This is generally considered less robust than native 4K content, where images are shot and delivered all the way from the camera to the TV screen in 4K resolution. But most people tend to notice the HDR and color boost above the higher 4K pixel resolution. FOX carried its recent NFC playoff game schedule in this manner.

FOX over-the-air broadcast channels will not offer the 4K or HDR enhancements.

This will be the first Super Bowl presented in Dolby Vision HDR but not the first event.

The company said: “Within the last 12 months, four of the biggest events in sports have or will be available in Dolby Vision – Super Bowl (Dolby Vision), NFL playoffs (Dolby Vision), World Cup (Dolby Vision), and Winter Olympics (Dolby Vision/Atmos). Other events that have been available in Dolby Vision through Xfinity have included college football and basketball. As long as the program is made available in 4K HDR, Comcast can offer it in Dolby Vision to customers with compatible TVs and set top boxes, which has resulted in a regular cadence of events that have been available in Dolby Vision through Xfinity.” 

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By Greg Tarr

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