PROVO — Watching sports in high definition compared to standard definition is like taking four sheets of cellophane off your TV screen.
That is what BYUtv did when it replaced KBYU-TV for Dish, DirecTV and other providers. It extended and reaffirmed high-definition shows regionally and other carriers nationally who choose to offer the product in that format.
This move, which occurred July 2, means a significant upgrade in the visual quality of BYUtv sports, which will increase the number of games, events and sports shows by 4 percent this sports season. BYUtv plans to air 670 hours of sports this year and will add “Coordinator’s Corner,” on simulcast with radio. A time for that show has yet to be announced.
This change means viewers will be seeing broadcast resolution so refined you can see blades of grass and beads of sweat so clearly it is visual artistry.
Managing director of BYU Broadcasting Michael Dunn said the move will bring the station’s programming, including sports, to more carriers in the popular high-resolution format.
"It’s an exciting development and we are anxious to see how this is received," Dunn said. "So far we are pleased with the reaction by viewers and it will make a big difference in our sports shows for Dish and DirecTV and other providers."
What it means is you no longer get KBYUtv on Channel 11 in Utah. If you call it up on DirecTV on that channel it is now labeled BYUtv and includes all BYUtv shows, including BYU Sports Nation, football, basketball and other sporting events.
If you live in Florida, New York or other parts of the country, it is up to the regional provider as to whether or not they will broadcast BYUtv in HD. It does take more bandwidth, or in other words, an HD broadcast takes more elbow room on the platform to put on the air.
“That is a choice made on the regional level,” said Dunn. “But we are finding that more of those regional carriers like our programming and are making that available. It’s an ongoing part of what we are doing in expanding our HD broadcasts across the country.”
HD broadcasts have skyrocketed across the country with the growth of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Video. Even DirecTV and other providers have developed their own apps that can be used to air specific content. With the advent of 4K televisions, the availability of even more refined high-definition content is spectacular.
The 1080 in 1080p refers to how many pixels comprise the video’s resolution. Pixels are the little dots that make up an image. The higher the resolution, the more details and sharper the broadcast appears to our eyes.
In egghead language: standard definition (SD) starts at 240p and ends at 480p. High definition (HD) broadcasts begin in what is called semi-HD at 720p, 1080 is full HD and everything above that, like 4K, is called Ultra-HD.
Before July 2, if you were a DirecTV subscriber and wanted to watch BYUtv on Channel 374, you’d see a game in SD. It didn’t fit your TV screen in an attractive manner and looked extremely blurry. It was distracting and annoying. To fix that, you’d have to invest in a streaming device like Roku. Today you can get that broadcast on your satellite in full HD by just clicking on Channel 374 or 11.
BYUtv has become a significant tool in partnering with BYU’s independent contract with ESPN. Football games not on ESPN become available for BYUtv. ESPN has granted rights to BYUtv to rebroadcast its games. BYUtv has also broadcast WCC basketball tournament games from the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas and that will continue in 2019.
Since 2011, every BYU home game has been broadcast nationally on one of ESPN’s family of networks or BYUtv.
This was impossible for BYU as a member of the MWC due to contractual restrictions.
This was one of the pillars that BYU stood upon when the decision was made in 2010 to leave the Mountain West and become an independent football program. The exposure was something that could not be duplicated by league memberships and financial rewards were at least four-fold.23 comments on this story
BYUtv began in 2001 and has since become available to 60 million households in North America. It is on the basic tier of both Dish and DirecTV, something the Pac-12 Network is still working toward providing subscribers. There are more than 800 cable providers that also offer BYUtv.
"This is a big move for us,” said Dunn. “We are anxious to see how it is received across the country because we believe we have high-caliber programming not only in sports but other productions we offer that are very popular.”
Former ESPN producer Mikol Minor, who's now at BYUtv, said the move enables an older generation of viewers not familiar with HD streaming devices to be more comfortable tapping into BYU sports over the air (OTA) on Dish and DirecTV.