DIRECTV to air NLDS in 4K (sorta)

AT&T continues its commitment to 4K programming yet again. You may not be able to go to the stadium, but DIRECTV can take you as close as anyone can get with its 4K airings of the major league baseball National League Division Series which airs starting tonight (October 6.)

What they’ve announced so far

You can find listings for the NLDS on channel 105 for tonight at 9:30pm Eastern (6:30pm Pacific). Game two will also air on channel 105 at 9PM Eastern (6pm Pacific) tomorrow, October 7. There’s a pretty good chance we’ll see at least two more games in the series in 4K, but frustratingly AT&T hardly ever puts guide data on its 4K channels for events more than two days away.

It’s (sorta) 4K

As they did last weekend with College Football, AT&T is taking a pristine HD signal at the stadium and converting it to 4K before it goes to the satellite. The result looks great, but perhaps not as great as truly live 4K.

Upscaling the signal leads to better quality than you’ll get in HD, because HD sports tends to get compressed pretty savagely when it’s broadcast live. The effect is less than it was in prior years, but there’s only so much that can be done when you’re trying to broadcast in real time.

Getting the best quality out of the limited bandwidth you have for HD always means some compromises. Generally, the best compromise is to spend more time working on the signal than it actually takes. In other words, you get the broadcast ahead of time and you process it over and over until it looks great. This takes too long to do it live.

On the other hand, 4K gives AT&T more room to work and that means that the signal is going to look better. The increased bandwidth of the 4K signal can preserve more of the original detail, especially when you’re talking about fast motion.

It’s also worth pointing out that they’re taking a 1080i signal, which provides 30 full frames of 1920×1080 every second, and upscaling it to 60 full frames of 3840×2160 every second. With today’s fairly advanced AI, you get something that looks really good while avoiding some of the artifacts of early systems.

Will it look better than the HD version?

Only you can decide if it looks better to you. If you’re watching on a 4K TV, you can switch between the HD and 4K versions. Just swap  between channels 105 and 219 (Fox Sports 1) where the game is being shown.

Having been there since the beginning, I will say the 4K presentations get better and better all the time. The very first 4K games were a little disappointing. They seemed somewhat flat in color and were several seconds behind the HD version. I do expect a small delay for the 4K version but it gets smaller all the time. It shouldn’t be more than a second or two.

On the other hand, it’s gotten easier for broadcasters to include commentary and commercials in their 4K broadcasts. Early 4K broadcasts were just the game, I mean JUST the game. No commentary, no commercial breaks, it was as if you were there. There was nothing but what some apps call “Gameday Audio. I sort of miss that.

If you still haven’t upgraded to DIRECTV 4K, call us at 888-233-7563 and we’ll get you all set!


About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.