Folks, it’s coming right up. The Super Bowl. Are you getting excited yet? I know I am. I look forward to this every year, so let’s talk through everything you need to know about how to watch Super Bowl 2024, to make sure the big game looks its absolute best on your TV.
Ever since Fox Sports hosted me in Miami and took me behind the scenes of the broadcast production of Super Bowl LIV in 2020, it has become my mission to make sure you are totally dialed in for the best-looking football you’ll watch all year. The clock’s ticking, so let’s get into it.
How to Make the Super Bowl Look Amazing on Your TV
We’ll cover how to pick the best signal or stream for the game, and we’ll talk about how to make sure there isn’t too much delay on your feed. Then we’ll get into some TV settings to have the game looking its best, and talk about some of the audio settings that will bring the excitement at the stadium right into your own home.
First, I am beyond excited that the game will be broadcast in 4K HDR and 1080p HDR this year. It’s not the first time for the Super Bowl, but it is the first time for CBS to broadcast the event in that higher resolution.
One day, that will be the norm for all major sporting events (and we are seeing more every year). But after I watched Fox Sports do it in real time in 2020, we didn’t get 4K or HDR again until Fox got broadcast rights back in 2023. So, until CBS’s announcement, we didn’t know if we’d get super high video quality this year. I’m so stoked that many of us can.
Where to get the best-quality stream
Which brings us to the first thing we should talk about: How should you watch the game this year if you have options? If you don’t have broadband internet, you’ll probably be watching on cable, satellite, or maybe over the air with an antenna. (And we’ll go through how to ensure you get the same experience.)
But if broadband internet is available, you have more options. So, let’s break down how you should watch by priority.
If your priority is getting the best possible video quality, there are streaming options and cable/satellite options. Now, I know some of you out there will want to get that 4K HDR signal, especially if you have a 4K or 8K TV. And I’ll talk about how to get it, but you may want to know that the 4K signal will be commercially upscaled from 1080p.
The commercial-grade upscalers that CBS uses will make for a very clear 4K signal for your 4K TV. But if you have a premium 4K or even 8K TV, its built-in upscaler will make that 1080P signal look awesome. And, honestly, it’s the HDR signal that’s really going to make the picture pop.
So, don’t be too fixated on getting the 4K version. The full 1080p HD version, especially with HDR, will look better than the 1080i non-HDR version that will hit your local CBS affiliate, whether you get that over the air with an antenna or through your cable or satellite operator.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
For streaming, I’m going to suggest YouTube TV as the best 4K HDR option because it’s likely to be stable, and it’s widely available on most smart TVs and streaming devices. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to pay extra for 4K on YouTube TV. You could also use DirecTV Stream or, potentially, Hulu with Live TV, but I’m less confident about the experience and consistency of picture quality from those services across different TVs and streaming devices. Fubo also has confirmed it will have the 4K stream.
You would think Paramount+, which is owned and operated by CBS, would get the 4K HDR feed, but it apparently will be showing the 1080P HDR feed. Weird. Not that I mind — that feed is still going to look awesome.
Outside of streaming, the 4K HDR feed will be available through select cable and satellite providers, like Comcast Xfinity, Dish Network, and DirecTV — if they offer a special 4K channel.
And you need to have the 4K converter box for those providers to get it as well. So, check with your cable or satellite operator, make sure you have access to the 4K channel — you might need to pay extra for that — and make sure you’ve got the right converter box to get it to your TV.
So, to wrap up this portion, if streaming the game is an option for you, I say do it. I think it’s worth even a one-month or trial subscription to see the best video quality for this game. You can always cancel later. If you’re going to use cable or satellite, try to get the premium 4K or 1080p HDR version of the game through the special channel available, and make sure you have the right converter box to receive it. Do that now, so you don’t have to scramble days before the game.
Lessen the lag
What if your priority is the shortest time delay? I mean, I think many of us have experienced hearing our neighbors cheering and screaming loudly up to 30 or 40 seconds before we see the same big action, and that’s because the feed we’re watching is so far behind the Joneses across the street.
I am sorry to say that I don’t have the magic formula for knowing which feed will be the least time-delayed. I suspect that the over-the-air broadcast you’d get with an antenna will be the least delayed — at least, that has been the case in my experience. So, it’s not the best picture quality, but it’s usually the least delayed.
And YouTube TV now actually has a setting that allows you to lessen the latency — just make sure you have a good internet connection before attempting this one.
Here’s what I suggest. If you have cable or satellite and you have streaming options, I’d consider loading up the streaming option on a laptop or phone and then loading up the game on the TV using your cable or satellite box. See which one is ahead, and go with that one on your TV. If the streaming version on your phone is in the lead, pull up that streaming service on your TV and don’t look back.
OK, now that we’ve done some work on making sure we get the best source signal, let’s talk about settings on your TV.
In most cases, using the streaming app built into your TV is going to give you the easiest path toward making sure HDR works. So, if you stream, consider using the app built into your TV. If you’re using a streaming box, or if you’re using a cable or satellite box, there’s one critical setting you want to check.
Some TVs are great about recognizing a 4K HDR signal and automatically changing this setting for you. But other TVs don’t, and it’s always best to check to be sure. So, you want to find the settings area that talks about the HDMI input signal or enhanced HDMI options. Make sure this is turned on for whichever HDMI port your box is connected to so you know you’re getting the HDR to kick in.
Next, you may want to adjust your TV’s backlight or OLED light intensity for the most vivid picture. Many TVs have a sports mode that does this automatically, but I like the movie or cinema mode for the most accurate color, with the brightness cranked up a bit.
From there, you may want a little motion smoothing turned on for the game. You may already use this, but if you’re usually not into motion smoothing, you may want to turn it on and dial it down to get the perfect blend of smooth motion and natural-looking picture.
Keep in mind that every TV brand calls its motion smoothing something different. If you want to learn more about that, check out our video on how to turn motion smoothing on or off.
Next, let’s talk about audio. Whether you’ve got a surround system or you’re using your TV’s built-in speakers, there’s an issue that sometimes pops up when watching big games like this.
Surround sound processing often adds a lot of stadium sound excitement to the game, which can be great. But depending on your equipment, sometimes the surround sound effects can actually drown out the sports announcers. If you run into that, try playing with your TV or audio system’s different surround modes. In some cases, you may want to try turning it off. Or, if you have the ability, you may want to turn down the surround channels just a bit, or, better yet, pump up the center channel level so you can more clearly hear the announcers and still get all that awesome stadium surround effect.
Now, I want to share some advice I always give around this time of year. You may be looking at getting a new TV ahead of the game. That’s a great idea — the prices on TVs this time of year are generally the best they will ever be. Now’s a great time to get a bigger screen for less money. I want to remind you that you’ll be living with this TV for many years to come, so just remember, this is an investment in years of enjoyment and memories. Absolutely look for a great deal, but I suggest looking for a great deal on the most premium TV you can afford. You’ll thank yourself long after the confetti’s been swept up.
Also, remember, I usually encourage folks to go with the biggest screen at the best quality they can afford. It’s a balancing act, sure. But I’ve found that even though folks think that a big TV will feel like a bit too much in their home, once it is in their home, they often wonder how they could ever go smaller. I rarely hear anyone say they wish they had bought a smaller TV. So keep that in mind when shopping.