ESPN to show some college football games in 4K — but you can't stream 'em

Ask any self-respecting nerd/sports fan what they really want, and the answer probably will be this: More sports in 4K resolution. And we're usually not all that picky about it. We'll take a 1080p stream upscaled. Sure, it's not native 4K — but it's better than nothing.

Samsung QLED TV

Source: Samsung (Image credit: Samsung)

And that's why today's announcement that ESPN will start showing some college football games in native 4K is a little frustrating. Two reasons for that, actually.

Reason No. 1 is because this whole thing is limited to ESPN on DirecTV. That is, the old-school DirecTV owned by AT&T, and not the new AT&T TV Now (which used to be DirecTV Now) — the streaming video version of said platform. That's the big lock-in.

Reason No. 2 is that this little endeavor is billed the "Samsung QLED 4K Game of the Week." And that's going to imply to most folks that if you don't have a Samsung QLED TV, well, you're out of luck. (When, really it's the DirecTV thing that's going to be the bigger roadblock.) But in reality, any 4K TV hooked up to DirecTV's hardware should work just fine.

While that's not to say that encoding and decoding 4K video over AT&T TV Now is the same as encoding and decoding 4K video on DirecTV. It's just not. But regardless, that's two layers of confusion — to say nothing of some oversized Samsung branding — that stands in the way of what we want: More sports in 4K.

But I digress. In any event, the first game is this weekend, when Florida plays LSU at 8 p.m. Eastern on ESPN. Some folks will get to watch it in 4K — so long as their TV (and DirecTV hardware) can support it.

The rest of us will just have to make do.