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Bowl launches Fox widescreen blitz

Feb 4, 2002  •  Post A Comment

The wide-screen digital technology used by Fox Television in its Super Bowl telecast will be touted in an ongoing brand campaign as a new standard for the network’s prime-time, live sports and news fare.
Just as Sunday’s Super Bowl telecast did, two-thirds of the network’s prime-time shows, live sports telecasts and news programs such as “Fox News Sunday” will carry a new “Fox Widescreen” logo indicating that the programming is being transmitted in the new standard-definition television format, also known as SDTV.
Josh Bernoff, an analyst at Forrester Research, said SDTV could emerge as a less-costly and more easily adapted alternative to high-definition television. “Industry backing for SDTV could break the logjam that slows digital TV adoption,” he said.
Sources confirm Fox currently is considering a proposal to use the SDTV technology to produce at least the weekly “A” game of its National Football League telecasts next season.
Thomson/RCA bought advertising and promotional time and provided production expertise and equipment to support Fox’s SDTV telecast of the Super Bowl and may do the same for other programs.
Officials at Fox, which has resisted pressure to broadcast in HDTV, declined comment on how much the company has invested overall in the SDTV standard during the past four years.
“We are developing sustainable models, especially for producing news and sports this way,” said Andrew Setos, president of engineering for the Fox Group. “It costs more to produce for SDTV, but not nearly as much as for HDTV.”
Each of the more than 22 cameras leased or purchased by Fox for the Super Bowl telecast had SDTV capability. A single feed was provided, from which both widescreen SDTV and conventional analog signals were transmitted. Unlike past HDTV Super Bowl productions, analog and digital viewers Sunday saw and heard the same game experience with the same shots, graphics and replays in the same sequence.
CBS and ABC have selectively produced live HDTV sports telecasts that have required separate production and feeds from the analog broadcast.
In the case of its prime-time series, Fox gave SDTV specifications representing minimal additional cost to the producers from which it licensed the shows, according to Fox officials. Insiders say the cost of producing filmed prime-time series in SDTV is maybe $5,000 to $10,000 per episode.
An estimated 1 million to 2 million consumers had the capability to view the SDTV transmission of Sunday’s Super Bowl because they have a digital or HDTV set connected to an over-the-air antenna.