Best TVs for sport Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best TVs for sport you can buy in 2023.
What better excuse to upgrade your TV than a World Cup? And with Qatar almost upon us, now is the time to snap up a new TV that will immerse you in the action and provide a spectacular view of Messi, Ronaldo and Kane scoring for fun.
Before we get into the full list of the best TVs for sport, it's worth recapping what makes a great TV for watching fast-moving live events such as the World Cup, and providing a 'cheat sheet' for shoppers. That said, if you're ready to make your choice, feel free to scroll straight to the best TVs for sport.
How to choose the best TVs for sport
Why you can trust What Hi-Fi?
With more and more live sport broadcast in native 4K and HDR, you'll want to make sure that you go for a TV with a 4K resolution and support for HDR. That won't be hard, as almost every TV sold today can handle both. The 4K element increases sharpness and detail, while HDR improves contrast and colours, making the image pop, particularly when it comes to team kits and the flags in the crowd.
Don't worry if you can't get a 4K HDR signal for the sport or game you're watching, because modern TVs handle 1080p SDR signals brilliantly, too, many courtesy of AI-powered upscaling.
Brightness and contrast are crucial, too. Most sports are colourful – think perfectly manicured green turf and vibrant team kits – so a punchy picture is essential. The brightest, punchiest TVs out there are Samsung's QLEDs, and the latest OLEDs and QD-OLEDs, while not quite as bright as the best backlit TVs available, counter with pixel-level contrast control that makes for brilliantly dynamic images.
One thing to watch out for with OLED and QD-OLED TVs, though, is that they invariably have a logo-dimming feature that can be triggered by the static graphics of sports coverage, resulting in the image dimming slightly after a while. Generally speaking, this feature can't be defeated entirely without going into the service menus, which can invalidate your warranty so isn't recommended. The good news is that most people won't notice its impact if you select the lowest setting. Look for the feature in the menus under a label such as 'Panel Care' or 'OLED Care'.
An OLED or QD-OLED TV is a great option if you're planning on hosting match-watch parties, as they boast almost perfect viewing angles, ensuring everyone around the room sees the on-screen action with the superb colours and contrast intact. LCD TVs will ordinarily lose at least some vibrancy when viewed at an angle. This includes QLEDs, although Samsung's top models are much better than most non-OLEDs in this regard.
Good motion handling is also a must, and requirements here are different for sports than they are for movies, as sports tend to be even faster-paced and delivered at higher frame rates. Here, OLED TVs can be the better choice, thanks to their inherently faster response times, but good LCD-based TVs can compensate at least somewhat for their slower response times with effective motion processing.
Finally, if you want to experience the stadium atmosphere at home, you need to consider sound, and the sad truth is that TV speakers are by and large average at best. We strongly recommend that you make room in your budget for at least a soundbar (the Sonos Beam Gen 2 is an excellent entry-level option), but if you can't. or don't want to, make sure you go for one of the better-sounding TVs on this list.
Got all of that? Then here are our specific TV recommendations.
The best TVs for sport that you can buy
Samsung's first QD OLED TV is incredibly thin over the vast majority of its rear – just a couple of millimetres deep, in fact – and boasts phenomenal contrast, making it a fabulous choice for sports fans.
It instantly delivers the sort of immaculate, ultra-deep blacks long associated with the best of the OLED world, while on the other it delivers levels of brightness – both in small highlights and, even more noticeably, across the whole screen – that we haven’t seen before on any regular OLED TV. It also 'pops' more than the rival Sony A95K, which also has a new QD-OLED panel.
The peerless viewing angle will ensure that everyone in the room has a great view of the goal, while sharpness levels with both upscaled HD and native 4K are very good indeed. More importantly, the sharpness remains high when there’s motion in the image too.
The S95B is not quite as subtle or accurate as the very best TVs we've tested (skin tones in particular look a bit off at times) but it does provide unparalleled sporting thrills. Sound is only average, though, so also budget for a soundbar if you can.
Read the full Samsung QE65S95B review
LG's C2 OLED is one of the most popular premium TVs around, and the choice of many a sports fan. While not as bright as the pricier LG G2, the C2 is brighter than all of last year's LG OLEDs. There’s noticeably more punch to the whole image, which pops much more effectively, and there’s significantly greater contrast and dark detail – all excellent news for sports fans. Crucially, there’s no down side, either. There’s nothing artificial to the image – it’s lifted, but naturally, with no detriment to the colours or black depth.
The C2’s punchier, more attacking audio delivery is a definite improvement over LG's 2021 C1, too, although there’s also a slight rattle from the speaker cabinet when the set is challenged by very deep bass, which is a bit of a shame. Still, it should do a decent job of reproducing the roar of the crowd if you're determined not to add a soundbar.
As is now expected of LG's premium OLEDs, the feature set is practically flawless, particularly where next-gen gaming is concerned. 4K/120Hz, VRR and ALLM are supported over all four of the Set's HDMI 2.1 sockets, which are rated to 48Gbps, and there's an HGiG setting and Dolby Vision game mode.
Sports fans, movie buffs and gamers with discerning tastes (and a reasonable budget) will find plenty to love about the C2.
Read the full LG OLED65C2 review
Look up ‘unassuming’ in the dictionary and you will probably find a picture of the Samsung UE43AU7100. This 43-inch LCD TV doesn’t flaunt a particularly flamboyant design, doesn’t sell for a particularly outrageous price – either high or low – and its features list is certainly no Lord Of The Rings-style epic.
But you don’t have to spend long in the UE43AU7100’s company to realise that a TV doesn’t have to be an extrovert to stand out from the crowd. Solid processing and a thoughtful, balanced picture make this a great option for sports fans on a budget. Throw in good colour, delivered with practically no ‘banding’, and you have a nice all-rounder.
The UE43AU7100 even proves a little more tolerant of wide viewing angles than most budget LCD TVs, further increasing its appeal to sports lovers. The AU7100's sound is only passable, but you could add a soundbar to boost the audio.
The UE43AU7100 certainly can't hold a candle to a best OLED, QLED or QD-OLED TVs, but it's superb for its size and price.
Read the full Samsung UE43AU7100 review
In recent years, Philips has won plaudits for producing market-leading OLED TVs at aggressively low prices. Happily, the 48OLED807 continues the trend by significantly outperforming its price tag.
On picture performance terms it’s right up there with the very best in class, surpassing them in areas such as punch, sharpness and shadow detail, and yet it costs a fair bit less and is likely to do so all the way through its lifespan. Motion handling is largely excellent, although the Sony A90K (below) is slightly better in this respect.
Then again, this Philips TV stands out from the crowd with a four-sided, 'Next Generation' Ambilight system. For those not already acquainted, Ambilight involves a series of LEDs embedded around the rear of the set that extend the on-screen action onto the wall behind and around the TV in the form of coloured light. It's a very cool (and unique) feature.
Combine Ambilight with Philips' penchant for extra colour vibrancy and punch and you've got a spectacular option for watching sports.
Read the full Philips 48OLED807 review
On paper, the Panasonic TX-55LZ980B is arguably the least interesting of the Japanese brand’s 2022 OLED TV range. After all, as Panasonic’s second most affordable 55-inch model for 2022, it doesn’t benefit from the fancy brightness-boosting panel technologies found higher up Panasonic’s range, or the new QD-OLED technology that’s turned up to dramatic effect in the latest TV ranges of Samsung and Sony.
The LZ980 does, however, still benefit from Panasonic’s redoubtable premium image processing system, as well as the brand’s ongoing obsession with trying to deliver images that get as close as possible to the way their creators intended them to look. It also delivers better motion performance than any previous Panasonic OLED TV generation, regardless of whether you're watching end-to-end football or fast-moving Formula 1.
Sound is open, clean and clear by TV standards, and two of its HDMI sockets support advanced gaming features such as 4K/120Hz and VRR.
All in all, the LZ980B outperforms, at least in some key ways, some of the more expensive TVs on the market, making it a bit of bargain.
Read the full Panasonic TX-55LZ980B review
The XR-48A90K is Sony's flagship OLED for those who don’t have the space for its new A95K QD-OLED, which isn’t available below 55 inches.
Where the A90K is almost flawless is in its picture quality. It reveals bright highlights that others miss and is extraordinarily sharp, solid and detailed. All of which should make watching live sports a real pleasure. Plus, as we said in our review, viewing angles are "near-perfect" – another big tick for sport fans.
The A90K sounds good by the standards of relatively small TVs. This is mainly down to Sony's Acoustic Surface Audio+ technology, which uses actuators that vibrate the whole screen, but we heartily recommend that you utilise the space created by the stilts in the box and add a soundbar such as the Sonos Beam Gen 2.
It might not quite have the flawless gaming feature set of an LG OLED, but the 48-inch Sony A90K OLED is a force to be reckoned with and a true flagship worthy of any top-flight sporting occasion.
Read the full Sony XR-48A90K review
While LCD is no longer Samsung’s only TV technology, the brand clearly still puts it at the heart of its TV world. So much so that Samsung’s 2022 flagship LCD TVs are positioned higher in the brand’s range than its new QD-OLED model, the S95B (above).
While a certain type of AV fan will always be drawn to the greater light stability and pixel-level light control you get with OLED TVs, the QE50QN90B’s combination of higher HDR-friendly brightness, peerless (by LCD standards) light controls and impressive image flexibility makes it a great choice for sports fans who watch events during daylight or in bright rooms.
Sadly, the QE50QN90B’s audio isn’t nearly as exciting as its picture quality. Yes, its OTS+ system does deliver on its promise of placing sound effects almost bizarrely accurately in the right place on or just off the screen. However, the speakers struggle to deliver the sort of volumes we’d hope to hear from a premium TV such as this, and its dynamic range is limited.
Still, if brightness and colour vibrancy are your top priorities, this QLED TV is an excellent choice.
Read the full Samsung QE50QN90B review
How we test TVs
Testing a TV is a long and complex process because a modern TV simply does so much. Not only does it need to handle a variety of content resolutions – standard-def, 1080p, 4K and sometimes 8K – and both standard dynamic range and high dynamic range (the latter in a number of formats), all of which need to be specifically tested, it also has a sound system with various advanced settings and a full smart platform. A TV is an all-in-one device in the best sense, but that also makes it a challenging review proposition.
As part of our testing process we manually check that every major app – from Netflix to All 4, Prime Video to Spotify – is not only present, but also outputting in the video and sound formats that it should. Just because there's a Disney+ app doesn't necessarily mean it's working in Dolby Vision and/or Dolby Atmos. In fact, in many recent cases it hasn't been.
We also connect both a PS5 and Xbox Series X in order to establish which advanced gaming features are and aren't supported, and on which of the TV's HDMI ports. Is 4K 120Hz supported? How about VRR? Is there a Dolby Vision game mode? Is there an HGiG preset for more accurate HDR tone mapping? We check all of these things, and measure input lag using a Leo Bodnar device.
We then test the TV's picture quality using a huge variety of content, from old DVDs to the latest 4K Blu-rays and plenty of streamed movies and TV shows in between. Every TV is tested against the best model at its price and size – we have a stockroom packed full of Award-winners for this very purpose.
We don't accept the out-of-the-box settings that a TV comes in either. While we intentionally don't go down the route of professional calibration (you shouldn't have to have your TV professionally calibrated in order to get the best out of it), we do spend hours adjusting settings using a mixture of test patterns and real-world content until we are sure we're getting the most out of a TV so that it has the best chance to shine.
While we almost always advise that a new TV is combined with a dedicated sound system such as a soundbar or AV amplifier, many people still prefer to stick with their flatscreen's built-in speakers, so we thoroughly test these too, using a wide variety of movie and music content and with great attention spent to the TV's many processing modes and individual settings.
We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in Bath and Reading, where our team of expert reviewers do all of our testing. This gives us complete control over the testing process, ensuring consistency. What's more, all review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than an individual reviewer, again helping to ensure consistency and avoid any personal preference.
The What Hi-Fi? team has more than 100 years experience of reviewing, testing and writing about consumer electronics.
From all of our reviews, we choose the best products to feature in our Best Buys. That's why if you take the plunge and buy one of the products recommended below, or on any other Best Buy page, you can be assured you are getting a What Hi-Fi? approved product.