You do not need a 4K TV to watch Spain at Euro 2020. You can buy it to watch other content -not much- on other platforms. You can even buy it to watch Real Madrid and Barcelona matches in LaLiga on Movistar+, with a special decoder and a fibre-optic connection. But the Spanish national team's claim to watch football on a UHD TV is a common farce at this time of year.
TV brands and department stores are trying to recapture the spending fever that football always brings with it. This summer's weak EURO has little appeal, because the fans still have the fears of the coronavirus. In Spain, Mediaset bought the rights to the top European national team tournament exclusively in August 2018 for around 40 million euros. The fact that the compendium of channels such as Telecinco, Cuatro, BeMad and Energy are betting on football and Spain is a punctual business with which to make a profit with the advertising generated by the matches of La Roja, a match between European powers and, of course, the final. The content usually broadcast by Cuatro and Telecinco is far removed from football. The Copa del Rey is broadcast as long as Real Madrid or Barcelona accumulate an audience to offer it to their advertising department and it is conveniently exploited with advertisers. The viewers get the product through their eyes, with their usual presenters and collaborators dressed up in Spain jerseys and scarves.
TV sets with the latest technology that promise to show football as it has never been seen before are nothing more than spaceships travelling Spain's television highways. A wasteland of content that will never test the full potential of the product. Telecinco and Cuatro broadcast the HD format on DTT, satellite or cable platforms such as Movistar+ or Vodafone. Mediaset's DTT multiplex broadcasts all of the company's channels and this means that some are SD quality and others can approach the optimum HD of 1080p, although none of them achieve this. Most are broadcast in 576i quality, others in 720p HD, because the bandwidth does not allow the insertion of more HD channels due to the size they occupy. Hence the latest bandwidth release to make room for the new DTT-2. If anyone curious wants to find 4K content on DTT, they can search for TVE 4K, which has been broadcasting content in that resolution for years.
According to the latest audiovisual market figures published by the National Markets and Competition Commission (CNMC), the ten most watched channels in Spain are Telecinco, Antena 3, La 1, La Sexta, Cuatro, La 2, FDF, Energy, Nova and Neox, in that order. And the most surprising thing is that FDF, Energy, Nova and Neox do not have high-definition versions. People watch television in standard quality, compressed and even blurred, on televisions costing almost a thousand euros, with which they could see the craters on the moon in detail. The commitment to DTT in Spain is so regrettable that the challenge of broadcasting in high quality is transferred to the internet, where this content can be seen. For example, the sports channel Gol has its HD version on Movistar+.
Back to football. We will be able to watch Euro 2020 almost with the UHF TV we have in the village. It is not enough for more. Mediaset wants the match to gather a lot of people and sell expensive adverts. Nothing else. The rest is of no interest. There is no commitment to a format dedicated to the event, specialised programming or 21st century image quality.
To the credit of the 4K and even 8K TV manufacturers, it must be said that their models are so advanced that they can upscale Spain-Sweden to make it look like something better. But let no one believe that a 720p match can be upscaled to 2160p and that the ball is not a white blob or the players have a blurred halo.
Spaniards who want to watch the EURO in 4K will be able to do so if they have a satellite decoder and their antenna can receive the free-to-air signal at the 19.2° East orbital position of Astra. At that point you will receive the signal of the German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF. The rest of the humans in Spain will have to make do with Telecinco's talk shows and enjoy the previews, with Jorge Javier Vázquez and Belén Esteban dressed up in the Spanish national team. But they don't even get colourful.