Why Are So Few Sports Broadcasts in 4K?

4K created a lot of buzz when it was introduced in the market. We had several promises of 4K movies, channels, and even live sports broadcasting.

However, 4K is yet to take off even after almost a decade of hitting the market. We have a few movies in 4K, a few YouTube videos, and maybe one or two series on different OTT platforms.

Things are even discouraging when it comes to sports. Only a handful of broadcasters has shown interest to telecast live sports in 4K.

We do have a few exceptions, like Fox offering a few NASCAR races in 4K. However, the main events like Kentucky Derby or Super Bowl were broadcast in high-definition at the most.

Why is there so little interest in presenting sports in 4K?

Let’s find out!

Sports in 4K is Cost-Prohibitive

Telecasting a sporting event is a costly affair. You have to invest in dozens of cameras, a production team, power backups, mobile mixing and editing vans and more. As a result, broadcasters have to invest heavily to let us enjoy live sports.

When it comes to 4K, things get more expensive. A good-quality 4K sports camera setup from brands like Sony can cost more than $150,000.

On average, broadcasters use 40 – 50 cameras around the stadium to capture the live action from different angles.

Therefore, buying 40 to 50 4K cameras would cost over $6 million. In addition, you will need support gear and accessories that would take the cost to more than $10 million.

As a result, the cost becomes too much to be able to earn profits. This is a crucial reason for the lack of sports coverage in 4K.

Lack of Infrastructure

The infrastructure of a stadium is a big consideration when it comes to broadcasting sports in 4K. They will need countless upgrades to support the professional level of sports recording and coverage.

Stadiums took a long time to get ready to support HD broadcasts. Back in the day, you could shoot a soccer match with four to five cameras.

However, today, you have ten times more cameras set up around the field. In addition, you have to take into account things like graphics, complexity, and potential angles.

Stadiums are getting upgraded slowly. Additionally, you need to invest heavily even to upgrade a stadium to offer HD-ready infrastructure.

As a result, getting ready for 4K is out of the question for the time being. We will need more time and patience before we can watch live football in 4K.

4K Cameras May Not be Enough

HD cameras are highly complex. In addition, 8K cameras are doing the rounds in the market. Some sports venues and stadiums also have 8K cameras installed around the fields.

However, these cameras are not enough to offer the same experience HD offers. They may let you zoom in comprehensively to show finer details, but not much more.

Additionally, you have to use special cameras to shoot fast-paced action in high frame rates. They can display slow-motion footage with a high degree of smoothness.

These intricacies are not yet possible with 4K cameras. Instead, you will need a 16K camera to provide the same experience HD streams offer.

Unfortunately, 16K cameras are not easy to purchase. Additionally, they cost a lot more than 4K cameras.

Therefore, the whole thing again becomes cost-prohibitive.

Viewers Aren’t Ready for Sports in 4K

Most of us won’t be able to tell the difference between 4K and HD when we watch television. The reason is you will need a large screen size to enjoy 4K resolutions. So, you will have to watch 4K on a high-end, 80-inches TV to spot any difference.

Sadly, not many of us own a huge TV to enjoy sports in 4K.

Additionally, the problem is more prominent in mid-priced TV sets. They may have 4K HDR but processes all signals in a similar manner.

Therefore, the TV will process a 4K signal the same as an HD signal.

As a result, you will not be able to make any difference between the two resolutions. You will have to pause your video and get closer to the screen to differentiate 4K from HD.


COVID brought with it the need for physical distancing. Sports events around the world were canceled as people remained inside their homes.

Till now, things haven’t got back to normal entirely. As a result, you can’t have a team of cameramen and engineers close to each other in a single stadium.  

Additionally, most businesses took a hit during COVID due to a dip in sales. As a result, broadcasters experienced a lull in advertisements and earnings. 4K needs a huge investment, and no one can afford it right now.

We may see more interest in 4K sports broadcasts as we settle down post-COVID.

Final Thoughts

4K is still an innovation and lacks widespread adoption. Broadcasting sports in 4K is still questionable due to the nature of high investment and equipment required. In addition, most stadiums do not sport an infrastructure that can support shooting in 4K. Moreover, we will need far more sophisticated 16K cameras to be able to offer the same viewing experience. Lastly, consumers don’t have such a high demand to watch sports in 4K. All of these reasons are discouraging broadcasters from telecasting sporting events in 4K. We will have to wait for some more time before we can watch sports live in 4K.


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