If you're a baseball fan who's ever wished you could better see the seams on curveball or the grimace of a batter hit by a pitch, DirecTV has some good news. Starting April 15, the satellite pay-TV service will begin showing the first of 25 Major League Baseball games this year in 4K resolution. It's the first time baseball has been shown in the higher UHD resolution in this country.
DirecTV has been among the most aggressive pay-TV services when it comes to 4K, with three channels now dedicated to 4K content. And just last week it became the first to show live sports in 4K with its partial coverage of the Masters golf tournament.
Among the MLB Network Showcase games in 4K are San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (April 15); Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals (April 19), and New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox (April 29-30).
The 4K MLB games are are available to DirecTV subscribers with an Ultimate or Premier programming package, an HR54 Genie DirecTV DVR/receiver, and a DirecTV-ready 4K UHD TV. For non-DirecTV-ready 4K TVs, you'll also need a 4K Genie Mini, which is a small set-top box that connects to the HR54. The company says that you'll be able to store 4K programming on the HR54 DVR/receiver.
Unlike streaming 4K services, which send programs and movies via the Internet, DirecTV is delivering its 4K programs via satellite, which could potentially improve picture quality.
How Much Will It Cost?
Based on the information we got from DirecTV, it looks like you'll have to pay at least $50 for a tech visit to get the 4K system set up to watch the MLB games. There could also be additional charges for an "advanced" receiver beyond the $7 per month DirecTV charges for each receiver or Mini you need; if your 4K TV is the only set that will be connected, there's a $7 per month surcharge, bringing the total to $14 per month. It's unclear at this time whether there's also a 4K programming service fee on top of your current package.
The big question for Consumer Reports is whether we'll be able to see a big difference in sports at a normal viewing distance, and whether there are any picture-quality improvements to satellite-delivered 4K programming compared to what we see with streaming video sent over the Internet.
We'll be checking out DirecTV's 4K MLB Network games later this month.
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