Rogers will be broadcasting the Habs v. Toronto Maple Leafs game on Saturday night, live from the Air Canada Centre, in ultra-high definition 4K, for those with screens capable of showing it.
It will be the first NHL game broadcast in 4K, produced by Rogers Sportsnet and available to Rogers customers on NextBox 4K on Channel 999.
Fans can watch Michel Therrien’s haunted expression of helpless grief as he watches his team blow another one, this time in stunningly detailed 4K imagery.
“What makes this 4K technology so exciting is how it enhances our storytelling and how we can boost sports fans’ passion for the game in a truly immersive way,” said Scott Moore, President, Sportsnet & NHL Properties, Rogers. “Games are won and lost in the details, and with 4K, the fans are closer than ever to the insider perspective.”
Ah, yes, “lost in the details.” A Habs fan doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the borderline obscene idea that we might see even more clearly the reasons for the hopeless freefall Les Boys have been in since the beginning of December, since which time they’ve played 4-16-1 hockey.
The frustrated grimace of Max Pacioretty, the profanity-laced tirades of P.K. Subban, the turtlenecked shrug of Tomáš Plekanec, will all be beamed out to the masses in eye-popping clarity.
“We’re investing in technology and content to build the best possible 4K TV experience for our customers,” said Rogers President of Consumer Business Unit Dirk Woessner. “With a growing lineup of live events and original productions, we’re working to brighten every screen with premium 4K content.”
While Rogers may be investing in 4K broadcast technology, the question remains whether it will ever escape niche videophile status, or whether 4K is destined to go the way of 3D television, which manufacturers placed a heavy losing bet on several years ago.
4K is being presented as an inevitability, but for most home viewers sitting on their couch watching a medium-size television, the idea of tossing out their recently purchased flatscreen and upgrading to a marginally better viewing experience seems a bit much.
If your monitor is smaller than 55 inches, you might notice a difference between standard HD and 4K if you squint and lie to yourself.
For real movie aficionados, though, these are good times to be alive. 4K promises stunning viewing on large screens, basically as good as sitting in a movie theatre, which will work best on epic films like The Godfather, 2001: A Space Odyssey or Lawrence of Arabia.
Whether even the most hardened techie will actually want to watch the evening news, or reality TV or YouTube videos in 4K remains to be seen.
If you want to watch hockey or baseball in 4K, though, Rogers has committed to broadcasting over 100 matches, including all 81 of next season’s Blue Jays games and 20 NHL games.
Rogers has 1.9 million customers, fewer than 300 of whom own the Netbox needed to watch 4K content.
Content available from Rogers in 4K in 2016 will include over 100 hours of streaming video on shomi, and an expanding catalogue of 4K content on Netflix.
Certainly it’s in Rogers’ interest to push 4K, seeing as it’s not only a sports franchise owner, but also a broadcaster, an Internet service provider and telecom giant.
Rogers’ largest competitor, Bell, has begun selling its new receiver, the 4K Whole Home PVR, on Monday, to Fibe subscribers who live in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Quebec City.
Most Habs fans will be watching the match through the tiny spaces between their fingers with their hand draped across their face, 4K or no 4K.