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Regional Baseball Broadcasters Look to Connect With More HD

Apr 10, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Play ball.
That’s what regional broadcasters of Major League Baseball games are doing this year when it comes to high-definition broadcasts.
Excluding national networks such as Walt Disney’s ESPN and News Corp.’s Fox, which air all of their baseball games in HD, about 2,900 game broadcasts will be in high definition this season, up more than 60% from 2007.
Comcast SportsNet, whose 10-network ownership is led by U.S. cable television leader Comcast and includes Fox, has gone one step further with its Chicago and New York outlets, ensuring that all of their televised Cubs, White Sox and Mets games will be in HD, according to Tim Fitzpatrick, spokesman for Comcast SportsNet. Overall, Comcast SportsNet’s HD baseball offerings will be up 61% this year.
“We’re being responsive to viewers, and viewers love HD,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said. “We’re always looking for ways to use technology to improve the viewing experience.”
Pregame and postgame shows at Comcast SportsNet, whose outlets also cover the San Francisco Giants, Oakland A’s and Philadelphia Phillies, also will be offered in HD.
Los Angeles-based FSN West and FSN Prime Ticket, which cover the Angels and Dodgers, respectively, will boost their number of HD broadcasts this season to a combined 150 from 100 in 2007, while also offering pregame and postgame shows in HD, said FSN spokeswoman Jennifer Erin Johnson.
Meanwhile, No. 2 U.S. satellite TV operator Dish Network is in talks to add Chicago-based WGN to its inventory of high-definition linear channels, according to the Chicago Tribune. WGN has scheduled about 65 Cubs broadcasts and about 30 White Sox broadcasts this year.
Much of the burden of boosting HD coverage falls on the regional broadcasters and the teams themselves—many have minority interests in the regional broadcasters—because national broadcasts account for a smaller percentage of baseball’s 162-game regular season than the National Basketball Association’s 82-game season and the National Football League’s 16-game season.
Last year, about 40% of the 4,400 regional baseball broadcasts were in HD.

19 Comments

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