If you took your TV out of the box, plugged it in, and started watching, it is not ready for football games.

Football season is here again and lots of people (myself included) will spend hours on the couch watching the games. As good as 4k televisions are out of the box they can provide a much clearer picture where it’s almost like being in the stadium. Maybe even better.

But you’ll need to make a few tweaks in your TV’s settings menu.TV manufacturers like to set the TV the way it looks best in a retail showroom. With all those overhead lights in the store, the picture looks much better with the brightness turned up high or even using the “Vivid” setting. No one will buy a TV that looks dark in the store.

Let’s dive into the TV Picture Settings to add some tweaks to make sure you’re getting the best and brightest picture possible before kickoff.

To start, open your TV’s picture settings. You’ll have several options here that probably include “Standard”, “Cinema or Movie”, “Vivid”, “Sports” and “Game”. First of all, the “Sports” setting is not ideal for most of what you’ll watch such as movies and TV shows.

The “Sports” setting may brighten the picture but it also adds something called “Motion Smoothing” for fast-paced action. This might be okay if you only watch sports but if you watch shows and movies this setting will give them what’s called a “soap opera effect”. Movies won’t look like movies if you know what I mean. 

The “Game” setting is not for watching sports. It is for video game playing so that’s a terrible option to watch TV.

Cinema or Movie Mode
The best setting for anything is Cinema or Movie Mode

The best setting out of the box is either Cinema or Movie mode. It’s an ideal setting for watching any channel or content on your big screen.

You can leave it there but the picture may seem dark since it’s primarily set up for movie watching and in a dark room. When you’re watching sports, the bright colors from the uniforms won’t pop as they should.

Leaving the setting at “Cinema” or “Movie”, let’s dive a little deeper into the personalized settings.

brightness setting
adjust brightness on a black scene

First, we’ll tweak the “Brightness” setting just a bit. “Brightness” gives you the ability to adjust the blacks on the screen. We’ve all watched programs where black colors appear grayer. Think of a movie with lots of dark scenes, like Batman. While one of those scenes is playing, turn the brightness setting down until you see details in the darkest images of the screen. Adjust brightness until the black looks as black as possible. The background behind Batman should appear black and not gray. When you’ve found that sweet spot, move on to adjust “Contrast”.

Clouds on TV
Set Contrast on bright white screen

Find a scene with lots of white such as a movie with clouds. You should lower the contrast until you see the details in the clouds. Look for shadows and details where the cloud blends in with other clouds or sky. You’ll probably need to lower brightness and contrast on TVs straight out of the box. 

Next adjust color and tint

Go back into settings to adjust color and tint so whites don’t look blueish or greenish and where someone’s face looks flesh-colored. The adjustments will show up on your screen as R for Reds, G for Greens, and B for Blues. 

Don’t get too carried away with Sharpness

 Finally, let’s take a look at adjusting “Sharpness”. The temptation here is to raise the sharpness level too high. With newer TVs the lower the “sharpness” level the better. 

If your main TV room is brightly lit you may need to raise the brightness level a bit but always adjust contrast accordingly. 

Play with the settings until you get the TV set just how you like it. Some people do prefer setting it to “Standard” or even “Vivid” and leave the settings alone. That makes perfect sense for someone who just doesn’t want to take the time to make the adjustments themselves. Finding a mostly dark scene then a mostly bright or white scene can be difficult while adjusting the settings.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but if you’ve purchased an expensive 4k or OLED TV, you should get the best TV picture you’ve ever seen. 

The only thing that’ll make you enjoy the season more, is if your team wins them all.