If you’re a football fan and an AV geek, you may well be wondering how to calibrate your telly to give you the best World Cup experience this Summer.
While we can’t give specific settings for every model (even our expertise has its limits), we can offer some general pointers that should help, whether you’ve bought a new TV for the occasion or are sticking with a much-loved model that could do with a tune-up.
Avoid Sport mode
The first pointer is perhaps rather counterintuitive: do not turn on the Sport mode.
Most TVs of the last few years have one of these Sport modes, and we've not tested a single one that's been anything other than absolutely dreadful.
Even a very new, expensive and generally very sophisticated TV such as the LG OLED55E8PLA makes this mistake - switch to the Sports preset and your eyes are assaulted by preposterously bright, garish colours. Sure enough, dig deeper into the menus and you find that the mode has pumped up Contrast and Colour and set practically every dynamic setting to Maximum. The resulting picture is not only deeply unrealistic, it’s exhausting to watch.
This, as we say, is the norm for Sport modes, so we sincerely recommend avoiding them.
More after the break
A great picture is a great picture
In fact, a television that’s been calibrated to look its best with movie and TV content should also look great with football. After all, the goal (sorry) in all cases is to get the most natural, realistic and exciting picture possible.
We’d therefore recommend following our full guide to setting a up a TV.
Once done, you should have a TV that looks pretty darn great with all content, including football. There are, though, a few settings you could look at to make little improvements.
The big one is motion processing. Football’s obviously a fast-paced game (well, most of the time) and the flight of the ball itself poses a particular problem for motion processing systems.
In short, the motion processing mode that you use for films might look a bit nasty with football. Or, conversely, while you might generally hate motion processing, you might find that it works a treat with the specific challenge posed by the beautiful game. In other words, experiment with the motion processing that your TV offers.
And if you really do want a bit of extra punch and vibrancy to the on-pitch action, it’s probably better to try out your TV’s dynamic contrast and colour modes (if it has them) than to pump up individual contrast and colour scales. We would still, though, advise against anything that looks too vivid or dazzling.
The streaming difference
It’s also worth remembering that many TVs automatically switch to a different picture mode when you open one of the built-in apps, and almost all models have further, dedicated modes for HDR content. All of which is pertinent if you’re going to be watching the streams via the ITV Hub or BBC iPlayer, the latter of which is offering 4K HDR streams for a lucky few.
In other words, if you’re generally happy with the performance of your TV but it suddenly looks weird when streaming football, try to copy over the picture settings you use on other inputs.
The long and short of all of this is that if your TV already looks great with most content, you probably don’t need to do anything else in order to get the World Cup looking super.
Just remember that the Sport mode is worth nothing more than a cheap laugh.