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Super Bowl 2021 won't be broadcast in 4K, but it will have 4K- and 8K-capable cameras

The CBS Sports trolley camera at Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Florida.
(Image credit: CBS Sports)

It should come as no surprise while you can watch Super Bowl 2021 on a 4K television, won't actually be watching it in any sort of native 4K broadcast. That's because of all kinds of factors — first and foremost, cost. Then there's the fact that unlike its competitors at Fox Sports (which served up almost-4K resolution for Super Bowl LIV in 2020), CBS Sports doesn't have any sort of live experience with public 4K broadcasts just yet, and the biggest sporting event in the United States probably isn't the best time to give things a go.

(CBS Sports told The Verge that it's not doing 4K this year because of COVID-19. Take that for what it's worth.)

All that said, CBS will still have plenty of fun tech on the ground when Kansas City heads to Tampa to face the Buccaneers on Feb. 7. (Yes, the Bucs get to play at home, which is the first time that's happened in a Super Bowl.)

CBS Sports says it'll have more than 120 cameras around the field and the rest of Raymond James Stadium, including some being used for the first time at a Super Bowl.

The camera you see above is a "trolley cam," which travels across a zipline at speeds up to 65 mph. It'll give you an angle from about eight rows up. (Which in a normal year would equate to a ticket worth approximately $2 million, give or take.)

There's also a "movie bird crane," which is a camera on a crane that they use for the sweeping live shots of the pregame set.

Then there are the "Venice Cameras," which you probably have already seen in action this year. CBS says they're used to "capture a dramatic cinematic feel." What they do is toss an unreasonable amount of bokeh into a live feed, blurring out the background with a really short depth of field. It's artsy, and it's something photographers and videographers love to use. And it still looks and feels really out of place in a live sporting event, and gives everything more of a video game sort of vibe.

There also are cameras stashed in a number of new locations — 12 of them sport 4K and 8K capabilities. All those extra pixels mean producers can zoom in digitally without losing as much quality. Interestingly, they'll all be operated remotely.

And because augmented reality is all the rage, you'll get a flurry of graphics laid on top of live video using Unreal Engine — it's a gaming graphics platform.

Also, at some point, there will be football.

Here's the full breakdown of all the tech being employed for the big game — which, by the way, can you stream on services like FuboTV come Feb. 7. 

CBS Sports Super Bowl tech by the numbers

(Image credit: CBS Sports)
Phil Nickinson

Phil spent his 20s in the newsroom of the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, his 30s on the road for and Mobile Nations, is the Dad part of Modern Dad, and is editor of