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Where to Catch 4K Sports Action on Satellite TV

by Jack Berkins on November 29, 2017

If you’re a weekender high def sports junkie or just want to follow your local team in crystal clear 4k (aka ultra HD), the good news is DISH and DIRECTV are off to a solid start in the 4K TV department. While it’s still early in the adoption cycle, every passing month sees more broadcasters and programmers add 4K sporting events to their flagship and mainstream lineups. In this article, we’ll compare when and where you can find the most ultra HD action and whether DISH or DIRECTV is likely to ramp up coverage faster in the coming years…

Current 4K Programming

The upside for sports fans is that most of the global 4k programming currently available is sports-related (since they tend to provide the biggest visual/marketing upside). Each provider needs to negotiate 4K rights with broadcasters, so DIRECTV and DISH’s 4k offerings are slightly different at the moment. Here’s a quick overview:

DIRECTV Sports in 4K

DIRECTV has a couple different channels dedicated solely to 4K –
#104 is non-sports, featuring documentaries, travel shows, etc.
Channel 106 is a bit more inclusive with at least half of its programming consisting of live sporting events.
Outside of specific channels, DIRECTV broadcasts select NBA, College Football and English Premier Soccer League contests in 4K. Go here for a list of the upcoming matches in 4K.

DISH Sports in 4K

In general, DISH is just slightly behind DIRECTV in the 4K sports arena. They have one channel (#540) dedicated to 4k college football games via Fox Sports, but do expect to add basketball, baseball and NASCAR in the near future. When that happens, they’ll likely be right up there (or ahead) of DIRECTV. One of DISH’s current upsides over DIRECTV is that they offer free HD for life. So, as 4k becomes more predominant, after you pick up a 4K TV, it won’t cost you a running monthly charge to enjoy its insanely high clarity (8.2 million pixels!).


For DIRECTV, you’ll need the following:

  • TV: Of course, you’ll need an ultra HD-capable TV (smart TV components aren’t necessary). If you’re in the market for one, check out this helpful 4k TV guide at amazon, with many priced at under $500
  • DVR: Genie with 4k minis or an HR54 & above receiver (must be connected to the internet)
  • Package: with English packages, you’ll need the Select plan or above; with Spanish, it’ll take Mas Latino or higher

With DISH, here’s the rundown…

  • DVR: The Hopper 3 (or latest version) with 4k Joeys
  • Package: with English packages, America’s Top 120 plan or above is required (note the Flex Pack doesn’t qualify you for 4K). Ultra HD isn’t currently available with Spanish-language plans but expect that to change soon.

Wrapping up

If you’ve already experienced 4K TV resolution (3840 x 2160), you know just how crystal-clear, crisp and non-pixelated the picture quality gets. Essentially, the massive number of extra pixels close the space between pixels found in previous HD technologies, resulting in an amazing viewing experience from any angle or distance to the TV. It’s still early in the evolution of 4K and as more sporting events get shot in 4K, you’ll slowly see DIRECTV and DISH expand their options, letting you critique that last-minute TD or blown strike call in the 9th that much easier!

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