Super Bowl LI Brings Options For HD, VR Viewers
In case you’ve been hiding under a rock since election day, Super Bowl LI kicks off this Sunday and viewers have more options available to them than ever to watch the big game in high definition splendor.
As you are hopefully aware, the game this year pits the New England Patriots against the Atlanta Falcons live from NRG Stadium in Houston. Coverage is being carried by Fox Sports and should be shown on a local Fox affiliate broadcast station near you.
Although the coverage will run on various channels all day, the primary Fox pre-game coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET with the game itself following at 6:30 p.m. This year’s halftime entertainment will feature a performance by pop diva Lady Gaga.
Viewers around the country will have the ability to catch the HD action on their big screen TVs for free from an over-the-air broadcast signal, if available in your area, or via a pay-TV platform, such as one offered by a national, regional or local cable, satellite or telco TV service provider.
Sorry, 4K Ultra HDTV owners, no live 4K broadcasts have been announced this year, although there will be plenty of 4K and 8K cameras on site recording the action for VR.
But if you are among the growing ranks of cord cutters, you’ll have a few options to get the game via streaming services as well, including a free feed supplied to Roku TVs or Roku set-top streaming adapters courtesy of the Fox Sports GO app channel.
Read more on how to make sure you can catch Super Bowl LI in HD resolution after the jump:
Roku said the broadcast will include a Field Pass stream including “sights and sounds in the stadium.” The game will also be available elsewhere on the Roku platform or from a number of other over-the-air TV platforms via a subscription to live streaming services Sling TV or PlayStation Vue.
Elsewhere, Fox is also offering the game live online at FoxSportsGo.com, as well as via apps for iOS, Android, Windows and Amazon tablets. It will also be found on other set-top media adapters including: Apple TV boxes, Android TV-powered devices, Fire TV boxes and sticks, Google Chromecast, and the Xbox One console. Verizon has the streaming rights to the game on its smartphones.
Fox Sports GO offers live sports and related programming from Fox Sports. Depending on the TV provider, viewers of the app may have access to Fox Sports, FS1, FS2, a regional Fox Sports network, Fox Soccer Plus, Fox College Sports and Fox Deportes.
Fox Sports GO is free to download. Viewers need only sign in with their TV Provider credentials, and have a subscription to the applicable channels on a cable/satellite/telco TV package to watch them through Fox Sports GO.
Virtual Reality Highlights
Meanwhile, this year will mark the first time clips from the game will be available in Virtual Reality (VR), with highlights integrated into the coverage, Fox said Tuesday.
Fox Sports is teaming with VR production company LiveLike to deliver the top 20 Super Bowl highlights in near real-time, which will include the four top plays from each quarter and prepared highlights for pre- and post-game. Fans will be able to choose from six different angles including the 50-yard line, end zone and a preferred cart cam, which will follow the line of scrimmage.
Fox and LiveLike are creating the VR shots from a mix of 38 Ultra HD 4K and 8K cameras positioned all around the stadium. The disparate images are stitched together to create a 360-degree experience around the viewer.
After downloading the Fox Sports VR app and signing in with the television provider information, fans will be able to experience the top highlights using a Samsung Gear VR/headset or watching a 360-degree view on a smartphone. Fox will alert viewers with a notification to tune-in any time a highlight is uploaded to the app.
But the majority of us will be watching in good ole HD–or upconverted 4K Ultra HD–from the Fox Network’s 720p HD broadcast. Still, there are some out there with HDTVs who might not have their set’s properly configured to ensure they are getting the action in full 720 glory. The following checklist will help you determine if your HDTV is displaying the sharpest possible picture. Follow along, and we’ll take you through the steps to make sure it’s in shape for Super Bowl viewing.
There are three ways to watch Super Bowl LI live on your big-screen TV in high definition: over-the-air broadcast TV, cable and satellite.
As mentioned, this year’s Super Bowl is being broadcast in Fox’s 720p HD format. Readers with Full HD 1080p or 4K Ultra HDTVs will see the game converted to their screen’s resolution of 1920 x 1080p or 3840 x 2160, respectively.
To receive the game via a free over-the-air broadcast, you will need an antenna (an over-the-air digital tuner is built-in to all HDTVs and 4K UHDTVs) and live roughly 25 miles from your local Fox affiliate’s transmitter. You will also need to have a line of sight to the transmitter tower. If there’s a building, hill or mountain between you and the tower, you probably won’t be able to get reliable reception. Check with antennaweb.org and/or your local Fox station for more information about what size and type of antenna you’ll need to see the game, as well as the direction where you’ll need to point it.
Because of the difficulties involved with receiving over-the-air broadcasts, a vast majority of viewers instead choose cable or satellite to get TV. But you’ll need the right cable or satellite equipment in order to see the game in glorious high definition. First, make sure your box is a “High Definition” model. (Cable and satellite providers generally supply a standard-def box by default.) Most HD boxes are labeled “HD,” “HDTV” or “High Definition” on their front panel. If you don’t see this info, your box is probably a standard-def model and will need to be replaced before the big game.
You’ll also need an HDMI interconnect—a type that carries both video and audio over a single cable—to link the box to your HDTV. Get a high-speed version as it can handle any current HDTV signal format. Retail stores like Best Buy charge anywhere from $25 to over $100 for an HDMI cable. Most installs need at least a two-meter (6 ft.6 inches) or three-meter (9 ft. 9 inches) run. HDMI cables do not tolerate sharp bends well, so make sure it is long enough to accommodate your setup. Amazon sells a great Hi-Speed HDMI Cable in 10-foot ($7.99) or 3-foot lengths ($5.99).
The next step for cable/satellite viewers is to find out from your program provider which channel carries Fox in high definition, as some cable and satellite companies still simulcast a standard-def version on a different channel. Tune to the Fox HD channel and confirm reception. You’ll also need to set the box’s video output resolution via its setup menu. Most large-screen TV screens have a native resolution of 1080p or 2160p, however, since their scaling circuits are generally better than the ones found in cable/satellite boxes, we recommend that any upconversion be performed by the TV. That means you’ll need to set the output of the box to its Native (if available) option. You can confirm you are getting a 720p signal by hitting the “Info” button on your TV’s remote control (the set should display “720p” at the top of the screen).
Since setting the output resolution of a satellite or cable box is very brand/model specific, HD Guru recommends that you consult your provider’s customer service department for instructions.
You’ll also need to make sure the cable/satellite box is set to “16:9″ and not “4:3″ mode. If this mode isn’t set correctly, you will see a smaller, cropped image.
First, connect the HDMI cable from the box to an HDMI input on your HDTV. You can use “HDMI 1,″ though any HDMI input on your TV should do. Next, select the corresponding input on the TV using its remote control.
To ensure that your set is showing pictures at full high-def resolution, it’s important that you choose the correct aspect ratio mode. All HDTVs have this setting, which is usually accessible via remote control. The setting you’ll want to select should be labeled “Full.” If your set has a sub-control for aspect ratio—e.g., “Dot-by-Dot,” “Native” or “Just Scan”—select that option as well. (The sub-menu in Panasonic TVs lists two options, Size One and Size Two; Size Two is the one you’ll want.)
With the above modes selected, your HDTV will now show the entire high-definition image without cropping any pixels. (Pixel cropping is also known as “overscan,” though TVs technically no longer “scan.”). Aspect Ratio controls on some sets might be grayed-out if the set’s picture mode is set to Vivid or Sports (see below for more information). Also, broadcasters may place data (usually visible as white dots or dashes) at the top of the image. This is normal and not a malfunction of the cable/satellite box or your HDTV.
Many LED LCD TVs with a 120 Hz or 240 Hz (in older models) refresh rate can reduce blur in programs with fast motion—football, for example—via a special processing mode. Different makers give these modes different names such as Motion Plus, Motion Flow, etc. Go to the picture setup menu and turn this on to get crisper motion when watching sports. Such modes apply to both LCD and OLED models. Older plasma TVs can deliver a blur-free picture without additional processing, and we hope by now you have it hooked up to an HD signal source.
Make a point of avoiding your TV’s following preset picture modes: “Sports”, “Vivid,” “Dynamic” and “Game.” That may sound counterintuitive, but such presets are generally meant to produce a bright image in a store rather than a high-quality picture at home. Furthermore, some TVs’ “Game” modes automatically disengage and lock out motion blur-reduction processing. Instead, use modes such as “Movie” or “Custom” to adjust your TV’s picture controls, ideally using a test disc like Disney WOW: World of Wonder on Blu-ray or the THX app for Android/iOS.
By Greg Tarr
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