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Super Bowl 2020: Everything you need to watch today's big game in 4K

Here's how to stream Super Bowl LIV live in the best picture quality with no subscription required.

Eli Blumenthal Senior Editor
Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor at CNET with a particular focus on covering the latest in the ever-changing worlds of telecom, streaming and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter at USA Today.
Expertise 5G, mobile networks, wireless carriers, phones, tablets, streaming devices, streaming platforms, mobile and console gaming,
David Katzmaier Editorial Director -- Personal Tech
David reviews TVs and leads the Personal Tech team at CNET, covering mobile, software, computing, streaming and home entertainment. We provide helpful, expert reviews, advice and videos on what gadget or service to buy and how to get the most out of it.
Expertise A 20-year CNET veteran, David has been reviewing TVs since the days of CRT, rear-projection and plasma. Prior to CNET he worked at Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as the Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics. Credentials
  • Although still awaiting his Oscar for Best Picture Reviewer, David does hold certifications from the Imaging Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology on display calibration and evaluation.
Eli Blumenthal
David Katzmaier
5 min read
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Super Bowl LIV is finally here! Well, technically it's in Miami, where the San Francisco 49ers will take on the Kansas City Chiefs. Now that the time has arrived, there are plenty of ways to stream the Fox-broadcast game if you cut the cord -- and 2020 brings a new twist: watching the big game in 4K ultra high definition resolution and high dynamic range. While the improvement in picture quality won't be as big of a leap as HD -- which debuted way back in Super Bowl 34, 20 years ago -- 4K and HDR should deliver better color, contrast and a clearer picture when you're watching on a 4K TV. 

Here's how you can catch the action in that glorious 4K resolution, as well as what you'll need and what you'll want to keep in mind. 

What exactly is going to be in 4K? 

Fox  started its 4K broadcast at 2 p.m. ET (11 a.m. PT) with its Fox NFL Kickoff pregame show and has continued broadcasting in 4K throughout the day (kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. ET). This includes not just the game but also the Pepsi halftime show that stars Jennifer Lopez and Shakira. 

The Super Bowl commercials, meanwhile, will likely still be broadcast in HD, though those on the 4K stream will still be able to watch them. 

If you're counting, note that the game itself isn't a "native" 4K stream. Instead, it will be produced in 1080p with HDR and then upconverted to 4K HDR. It should still look better than the standard HD stream, but it's not true 4K.

What you'll need to watch in 4K 

Here's the basic list of requirements:

  • A 4K TV
  • A service that carries the 4K version of the game
  • A device that lets you watch the 4K version 
  • For streaming, enough bandwidth to handle the 4K stream

The 4K TV is the easiest part. Nearly every TV sold today can handle 4K resolution, and the cheapest ones start at a couple hundred dollars. And the Super Bowl sales are going strong already.

Now for the hard part: making sure you can actually watch the game in 4K on your 4K TV. For that you'll need one of a handful of services that will carry the game in 4K, as well as a 4K device -- namely a 4K set-top (cable or satellite) box, a 4K media streamer to plug into that TV or a smart TV with a compatible app. You have three basic options.

Stream in 4K for free on TVs with the Fox Sports app

Cord cutters who want to enjoy the game in 4K without paying for a subscription can stream it for free via the Fox Sports app (not to be confused with the Fox Sports Go app). There's no sign-in or "authentication" required, you just need to download the free app to your streaming device or smart TV and you can start watching in 4K HDR, immediately, provided you have enough internet speed (see below).

4K devices from Roku (now that its disagreement with Fox is settled), Amazon Fire TV and Apple will let you to watch the Fox Sports app's stream of the Super Bowl in 4K, including:

All of the devices above will let you watch game in 4K HDR via the Fox Sports app, with the exception of the Apple TV 4K, which will deliver Fox's stream in 4K resolution and standard dynamic range

Stream in 4K with a FuboTV subscription

If you're a cable-TV cord cutter you can also stream the game in 4K on FuboTV. It's the only live TV streaming service that will carry the Super Bowl in 4K. 

As with all such services, FuboTV's local channels -- in this case, Fox -- aren't available everywhere. To watch the Super Bowl on FuboTV you'll need to make sure it carries your local Fox station. Here's FuboTV's list of local Fox stations. You'll also to be watching on one of FuboTV's list of 4K-compatible devices

The service starts at $55 per month but there is a way to watch the Super Bowl for free: Just sign up for the free seven-day trial right now and cancel immediately afterward without having to pay anything.

Watch the Super Bowl in 4K via cable or satellite

Traditional satellite and cable companies that carry the 4K version of the game include:

  • AT&T's DirecTV (channel 105) 
  • Altice's Optimum (channel 200)
  • Comcast Xfinity (say "4K" into the voice remote)
  • Dish (channel 540)
  • Verizon Fios (channel 1498)
  • T-Mobile TVision (channel 120)

To watch the game you'll need a compatible 4K set-top box and TV and you'll need to be watching the 4K channel itself. Check with your provider for details.

What kind of internet speed do I need? 

To stream in 4K HDR Fox recommends an internet connection of at least 25 megabits per second or higher, in line with what Netflix recommends for those who want to stream 4K movies and TV shows on its Premium plan. 

If your data provider has a data cap you will want to be mindful since 4K streams are more data-intensive than traditional HD footage. In this case, you may want to stream in HD, not 4K. 

Fox's regular Super Bowl broadcast in HD will be available to stream on FoxSports.com as well as the Fox Sports and Fox Now apps for free without authentication. You can also watch in HD on live TV streaming services that carry your local Fox station (see below), as well as via antenna, cable or satellite. Here's all the details.

What about delays?

Nearly all television broadcasts have a live-delay to ensure the broadcasts remain family-friendly, in part because of the infamous 2004 Super Bowl halftime show that starred Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake.  

Whereas this is usually a few-second delay on traditional cable, satellite or over-the-air broadcasts, the gap when streaming over the internet is a bit wider due to latency on streaming services. Given that it depends on a number of factors, including your internet connection, the delay could be 10 seconds or more. 

If you're watching the game while having Twitter open or while using a sports betting app, you may want to look for a traditional cable, antenna or satellite broadcast to make sure you're following in as close to real time as possible to avoid having things spoiled. 

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Originally published Jan. 23. 
Update, Feb. 2: Story has been updated to reflect Roku and Fox reaching an agreement.