Super Bowl TV and Home Theater Setup Tips

Celebrate Super Bowl Sunday in high definition and surround sound.

Group cheering at a Super Bowl party

Fat Camera / Getty Images

The Super Bowl is a great excuse to upgrade your home entertainment system. Whether you're a cord-cutter, cable or satellite subscriber, or over-the-air (OTA) viewer, here are some ways to make the most of this year's Super Bowl broadcast.

For 2020, the 54th Big Game will be held on Sunday, February 2nd and broadcast through the Fox Television Network. The game broadcast is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. PST/6:30 p.m. EST from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. However, there will be several hours of pre-game TV programming. For 2020, the Super Bowl will be broadcast in 720p resolution.

How to Watch the Super Bowl in HD

If you have cable or satellite TV, you need a subscription package that include HD content. Check with your provider for HD content pricing and options.

If you're watching the game through an OTA signal, you will need an antenna. (Check out our suggestions for the best OTA antennas.) To view the OTA broadcast in HD your TV needs to have an ATSC tuner (all HDTVs made after 2009 qualify).

If you'd prefer to live-stream the game you have a number of options for that, too. You will need a fast internet connection to stream any content in HD.

Whatever your viewing method, to receive HD content you need an HDTV. If you don't own an HDTV and want to buy one in time for the Super Bowl, LED/LCD flat panel sets are the most affordable options available. Check out our suggestions for 1080p LED/LCD TVs and 4K Ultra HD TVs (includes LED/LCD and OLED).

Although discontinued in 2014, plasma TVs provide better motion response than LED/LCD TVs, making them ideal for sports.

Couples watching football on TV
Dmytro Aksonov / Getty images

How to Watch the Super Bowl in 4K Ultra HD

The Super Bowl will not be broadcast in 4K, however, it will be shot using 4K and 8K cameras for future distribution and archiving. A 4K Ultra HD TV will still enhance your viewing experience. These sets can upscale signals, adding more perceived detail from HD broadcasts, and they can future-proof your setup for years to come.

Another display option is an OLED TV. LG and Sony are the only brands that makes these rather pricy TVs, but they support 4K resolution as well as a crystal clear, high-contrast image.

When shopping for your Super Bowl TV, be wary of Curved Screens. Although these sets look fancy, keep in mind that if you have a large group, the people sitting off to the sides may not have a complete view of all the action.

How to Watch the Super Bowl on a Video Projector

Video projectors can deliver a huge screen size, which is great for a large group, but the setup requirements are different than that of a TV. You will a video projector and a large screen or a blank white wall. If you're planning to run the projector in a room during daylight with drapes, blinds, or curtains that can be drawn, you need a projector that can emit a lot of light. A growing number of projectors are bright enough for such conditions.

For the best result, consider a projector with a rated light output of 2,000 lumens or more, or refer to the lumens guide by Projector People. Projectors should be used in a dimly lit or light controllable room.

Most projectors don't have built-in TV tuners, so you will also need to connect a cable or satellite box to the projector using an HDMI connection.

If you have a small room, you might consider a Short Throw projector.

Most video projectors do not have built-in speakers, and the ones that do are not much better than a tabletop radio. For the best result, you need to connect either an analog or digital optical output connection from your set-top box to a home theater receiver, soundbar, or sound base.

How to Stream the Super Bowl

As mentioned previously, you also have the option of streaming the Big Game live. For those that will not be home, or are working, on the big game day, you will need to check streaming options for recorded broadcasts of the game.

For 2020, the big game will be live-streamed on Fox Sports Go. Additional live streaming options may be revealed in the weeks closer to game day. Some options may require a cable or satellite subscription to access the stream. Check the Fox Sports Super Bowl or Go page before game day.

How to Listen to the Super Bowl on the Radio

For those who don't have access to the game through cable or streaming, it will be broadcast Westwood One-affiliated radio stations and other sources.

How to Get the Super Bowl in Surround Sound

There's a number of ways to get surround sound, depending on your setup. Here's how to get surround sound on HDMI, non-HDMI, and OTA devices.

HDMI

If you have a soundbar or audio receiver with an HDMI input, and if your cable or satellite box has an HDMI output, the easiest solution is to connect everything with an HDMI cable. Connect the HDMI output from your set-top box or streaming device to your audio receiver, then connect the output of your home theater receiver to your HDTV.

A more direct audio path for HDMI systems is an Audio Return Channel (ARC). With HDMI ARC you can hear TV audio through your audio system instead of the TV's speakers without having to connect analog or digital optical audio cables between the TV and the audio system. In order to take advantage of this option, both your TV and home theater receiver or sound bar need to have ARC connections.

TV audio output connection options
Robert Silva

No HDMI

If you do not have an HDMI input, you can still get the game in surround sound. HD cable or satellite subscribers should have a digital optical audio output connection. Connect directly from the box to the digital optical audio input connection on your home theater receiver. You can now access the surround sound signal from the cable or satellite feed. If you don't have a home theater system to complement your HDTV, consider getting a soundbar or home-theater-in-a-box.

Over-the-Air

If you're planning to watch the Super Bowl through an over-the-air (OTA) antenna connected to an HDTV with an ATSC tuner, check to see if your HDTV has a digital optical audio output connection. If so, then simply connect the digital audio output of the HDTV to the digital audio input of the home theater system, and you will experience the surround sound feed for the Super Bowl.

If your HDTV does not have a digital optical audio output but has a set of analog stereo outputs, then connect those outputs from your HDTV to your home theater or audio receiver. Check to see if your home theater system has a Dolby Prologic II, IIx, or DTS Neo:6 setting option. If so, then you will still be able to get a surround sound signal from the stereo input signal, although it is not as effective as a surround sound signal through a digital optical audio connection.

This article is updated for each year's Super Bowl. Come back in early January of each year for details pertaining to that year's scheduled Super Bowl TV broadcast and TV/home theater setup information.