Of all the years to not have the Super Bowl in 4K, this one stings pretty hard. Not only will we want to see every detail of every expression from quarterbacks Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes, but the continued proliferation of 4K TVs makes this a pretty obvious moment for a 4K broadcast.
We’re going to be limited to 1080p (and no HDR) for Super Bowl 2021 live streams this year because of two reasons: the network it’s on and the times we live in. Yes, football fans, you can blame CBS this year.
So while Super Bowl LIV (aka Super Bowl 54) was streaming live in 4K and HDR on FOX last year, we’re not getting the same treatment this year because CBS has this year’s game.
So, yes, apparently CBS doesn’t have the same expertise that FOX does when it comes to ultra high-def streams. Weird, right?
You’d assume that the NFL itself would have some ability to bridge the gap or something, for the sake of making the biggest game of the year look like it’s the biggest game of the year. Alas, that’s not the case.
And CBS couldn’t learn in time because of the same reason that everything in sports and entertainment is broken this year:
We’re not getting Super Bowl in 4K because of COVID
CBS Sports Digital told The Verge that “production limitations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic” are the primary reason it can’t learn how to make a 4K Super Bowl live stream happen for Chiefs vs Buccaneers.
Yes, because of how COVID-19 regulations have increased how we all work remotely this year, broadcasting the big game is more complicated than ever. So, CBS Sports Digital had to reprioritize.
CBS Sports Digital said it’s focusing instead of making sure its streams are both reliable and low on latency. Since the memories of the low quality ESPN Plus streams from UFC 257 are fresh in our heads, we’re not going to argue against CBS making sure it gets the basics right. You do not want to fumble the Super Bowl stream.