There’s a growing push into 4K ultra high-definition broadcasts, which have been done for everything from The Masters to the Olympics, and they’re starting to make their way into college football. DirecTV and NBC are teaming up to deliver a 4K option for every NBC broadcast of Notre Dame home games, including Saturday’s game between the 18th-ranked Irish and the 12th-ranked Michigan State Spartans (both rankings from the AP poll). Here’s more on this from NBC’s release:

Saturday night’s matchup will mark the 78th meeting between the Fighting Irish and the Spartans, with the rivalry dating back to 1897. The two teams last met in 2013, when Notre Dame defeated Michigan State 17–13 at Notre Dame Stadium. The Fighting Irish hold a 48-28-1 all-time lead in the series.

Mike Tirico (@miketirico) calls Saturday’s game alongside 1984 Heisman Trophy Winner and analyst Doug Flutie (@DougFlutie), and sideline reporter Kathryn Tappen (@KathrynTappen).

Liam McHugh (@liam_mchugh) will host halftime coverage on NBC, on-site at Notre Dame Stadium. McHugh will be joined by 11-year NFL veteran and former University of Michigan LB Dhani Jones (@DhaniJones). McHugh and Jones will also manage postgame coverage on NBCSN.

In addition to NBC’s traditional high definition broadcast of all Notre Dame Football home games, NBC and DIRECTV will offer viewers 4K ultra-high-definition (UHD) coverage of every Fighting Irish Football home game during the 2016 season. 4K UHD coverage of Notre Dame Football on NBC will be delivered live, as a companion presentation to NBC’s high definition broadcast, and will feature the same on air commentators, camera angles and graphics. 4K UHD coverage of Notre Dame Football will be a first for NBC and will be distributed to DIRECTV.

The 4K coverage option will be available on DirecTV channel 106, and it furthers the push that company is making on 4K sports content. Here’s what Phil Goswitz, DirecTV vice president for space and communications, said about 4K at an industry conference last December:

“Forty percent of people are going to have UHD TVs coming out of Christmas and they are going to be looking for something to watch,” Goswitz said. “Our goal is to have them tuned to DirecTV and have as much linear live content, especially sports content, as soon as possible.”

That 40 per cent figure seems ridiculously high, as Strategy Analytics said in May they predicted only 1 in 8 North American households (12.5 per cent) would have a UHD TV by the end of 2016. That’s with a 72 per cent year-over-year rise, too.  However, that same report estimated almost 50 per cent of North American homes would have a UHD TV by 2020, so all indications are that this trend is going to continue to grow.

There are good reasons why 4K seems on firmer footing than failed past TV trends like 3D, too, and one of the big ones is content. Fortune noted in June that the amount of 4K content has increased dramatically, through both 4K BluRays and streaming content from the likes of Netflix and Amazon. Traditional TV networks and distributors have been slower to adopt this, though, and it’s interesting to see that much of the 4K focus they do have appears to be on sports. This appears to be a big push for DirecTV in particular, and it may help them stand out in a marketplace that’s crowded with TV options. We’ll see how it goes.

[NBC Sports Group Pressbox]


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.

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