Not all TVs are created equal when it comes to watching sports. While most of the best TVs these days deliver decent picture quality, when it comes to shopping for the best TV for sports, it’s about more than just the colors you see on display. With fast-moving action and numerous players, fans and scores to keep track of on screen, you need a TV that can handle all of the flurry — without getting blurry.
What Are the Best TVs for Sports?
The best televisions for sports offer big-screen viewing with features that minimize blurring and banding. It’s all about the way your TV screen handles motion. We looked for TVs with deep contrasts and the ability to pick out tiny details too, so you can easily read the scoreboard, for example, or see the numbers on the back of the jerseys without having to squint or get up close. Here’s what else to keep in mind when shopping for a good TV for sports.
Motion Blur: Motion blur refers to images on screen that look fuzzy and out of focus, Motion blur typically occurs when there’s a fast-moving image, say, when a baseball is stuck by a bat, or when a NASCAR vehicle whizzes around the track. On cheaper TVs, the ball or car will lose detail and look less distinct. Look for TVs that have built-in settings to reduce motion blur.
Stutter: If you’re using your TV to watch sports, it’s important to look for a TV for low stutter. Not to be confused with judder (more on that below), a TV’s stutter refers to the way a static image can sometimes be held on screen in between frame transitions. The effect creates a slight pause in the action, rather than smooth transitions from frame to frame. You’ll notice it for example, when a touchdown has been scored and you can hear the crowd cheering, but the picture still shows the football in the air. Basic TVs often have to “catch up” to the action on screen because of stuttering.
Judder: Judder, meantime, refers to the jerky movements that come on screen when the motion interpolation of the TV cannot keep up with the signal coming into the box. It’s not often noticeable, as most TVs these days use something called 3:2 pulldown to match the frames coming in through the signal with the frames displayed on your TV. Still, some of the picks on our list offer settings to help reduce judder.
Input lag: A television’s input lag is the amount of time that elapses between a picture being generated by a source and that image appearing onscreen. The lower the lag the better. This affects the way you watch sports, but it’s especially important for gamers, since every second counts in gameplay — you don’t want there to be any lag at all.
Refresh rate: Refresh rate refers to how many times per second the image on the screen refreshes. The higher the refresh rate, the better a TV is at handling fast motion, making it an important consideration for sports. You’ll get a smoother picture with less blur. Most TVs have refresh rates of 60Hz and 120Hz.
Screen Size: All of the picks on our list deliver big-screen viewing, with a minimum screen size of 55 inches, though you can follow the links in our piece to choose other sizes as well.
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1. LG OLED65CXPUA 65-Inch 4K Smart OLED TV
LG was a pioneer in developing OLED TVs and this model showcases the technology in all its full (colored) glory.
Millions of pixels work together to create brighter colors and crisper contrasts to place you firmly in the middle of the action for a more immersive fan experience. With the ability to control every pixel individually, the OLED system delivers a more accurate and life-like picture -- especially great when watching sports.
LG's α9 Gen 3 AI Processor upscales everything to 4K (or as close to 4K as possible), while its OLED "Motion Pro" setting helps to reduce stuttering during fast action sequences (say, while an athlete is running a play on the field, or while watching a chase scene in a movie). NVIDIA G-SYNC and FreeSync tech help to eliminate any lag during gaming too, so your gameplay is smooth and uninterrupted. This unit has a high refresh rate of 120Hz.
Control the TV using the included remote or set it up to work with your favorite voice assistant -- Google Assistant or Alexa. LG's webOS platform essentially turns the TV into a home base for entertainment, making it easy to find your streaming apps and to find your favorite content. You can also set alerts to pop up when your favorite teams are playing, so you can easily switch to the game or check the scores — even while you're watching other content.
At the end of the day, your team's performance on the field or track will only look as good as the screen it's on, and this LG TV adds Dolby Vision IQ to automatically adjust picture settings based on your lighting conditions and what you're watching. Dolby Atmos, meantime, delivers a 3D surround sound experience so you can hear ever rip, roar and rumble at home.
2. SAMSUNG Q60T Series 65-inch Class QLED Smart TV
Samsung's entry-level QLED punches above its weight with low input lag, well-defined contrasts and a dazzling end-to-end display that fills the screen with big, bright pictures.
Samsung's QLED technology uses quantum dots to produce more than a billion shades of color. What that means: a wider range of shades and contrasts, that better mimic what's happening on screen.
Contrasts are surprisingly sharp, even in daylight; there's no mistaking the colors on the field or the numbers on a scoreboard. Samsung says that's thanks to a series of dedicated warm and cool LED backlights, that help to bring out contrasts and details for crystal-clear viewing.
The Q60T uses a 60Hz panel which is decent enough for most things you'll be watching on TV. You also have the option of enabling a "Picture Clarity" setting in the menu to access motion interpolation -- a type of video processing that works to eliminate judder.
This Smart TV is compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa to let you control settings using your voice. You can also use the TV as your home's smart hub, to set the temperature, turn off the lights, unlock the door and even run your robot vacuum without ever leaving the couch.
3. TCL 65-Inch 6-Series 4K UHD Dolby Vision QLED Smart TV
I had two TVs going during my last Super Bowl party and by the end of the first quarter, everyone has repositioned themselves around this TCL 6-Series setup.
The TV delivers incredibly realistic images, with none of the annoying filters or "glossiness" that some manufacturers use to disguise less-than-ideal picture quality. Instead, TCL boasts a powerful AiPQ Engine, which uses machine-learning algorithms to optimize colors, contrasts and clarity. What you see is exactly what's being broadcast, with everything upscaled to as-close-to-4K quality as possible. The addition of Dolby Vision HDR helps to pick out even the tiniest details, so you see every angle of the game from every inch of the large 65-inch screen.
TCL's mini-LED technology lights up the screen with a wide gamut of colors, so every inch is illuminated with the same brightness and vivacity. It's extremely noticeable when you're watching sports and you want a clear shot of the entire field so you can -- literally -- get a wider field of vision.
Motion handling is smooth, and we barely noticed any lag or stuttering. Turn on TCL's THX-certified "Game Mode" combined with the TV's variable refresh rate for ultra-smooth gameplay with no smearing or input lag.
Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo has been the official brand ambassador for TCL since 2018 and when we interviewed him about the collaboration, he said he signed on because of how easy and accessible the TV was for sports fans. There's very little you have to learn to start watching right away, the action on screen is always crisp and in focus, and the picture quality won't fade out -- even if the game goes into overtime.
4. Hisense 55-Inch Class H8 Quantum Series Android 4K ULED Smart TV
This Hisense H8G quantum series ULED TV gets you super bright 4K images that pop off the screen, with Dolby Vision HDR enhancing colors and bringing out the little details in every scene. Dolby Atmos sound creates a true home theater experience.
The TV delivers a native refresh rate of 60Hz. It's got very low input lag for gaming, and it's a good choice for watching sports. In our experience there's very little stutter or motion blur.
At 55 inches, this is the smallest screen size on our list but you get an end-to-end display in a slim and sleek package. Control the TV via the easy-to-use voice remote or through an Alexa-enabled device (sold separately).
Need more proof that the Chinese electronics brand is making a play for sports fans? Hisense recently inked a deal with former NBA star Dwyane Wade to be its first U.S. brand ambassador.