No Rush for HD

Oct 5, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Despite signs to the contrary, a marriage of wrestling and USA Network in high definition isn’t going to happen anytime soon.
Last month World Wrestling Entertainment excited some HD-loving fans by announcing it was going to conduct its first high-definition test. This week, Universal HD declared it was taking steps to become a more stand-alone channel that’s less dependent on parent company content (UHD runs shows from NBC Universal-owned USA, which televises WWE’s “Raw”).
But according to WWE and USA, neither side has plans for an imminent upgrade.
“We do not have a platform to provide HD to consumers, so there’s no rush to go HD,” said WWE spokesman Gary Davis. “We have been keeping an eye on the technology, as a lot of people are. We want to be prepared, so we want to know how we might have to do camera angles and procedurally what we might have to do different.”
USA President Bonnie Hammer said going HD could take away some of the “magic” of wrestling.
“We’re actively thinking about it and talking about it, but there are no answers yet,” she said. “The WWE is wonderful, it’s gymnastic, it’s physical. If shooting in HD, how much more will you see? Will you see so much it will in some ways take away from the magic?”
Among all networks – broadcast and cable – USA is the largest without an HD simulcast. USA is the top-rated prime-time cable network for the third quarter (TNT was second and ESPN was third).
There has been speculation in the HD community about which NBC Universal cable network should be first to make the HD jump. USA has the largest audience by far. Sci Fi has the most HD-friendly content, with fare such as “Battlestar Galactica” and “Stargate SG-1.” Bravo has the affluent psychographics that fit the HD consumer profile.
Ms. Hammer, who is also president of Sci Fi, refused to pick a front-runner.
“Each channel has some really positive reasons to want to air things in HD,” she said. “But I don’t think one has an edge over the other.”
Concluded Mr. Davis: “I can understand why USA is not in a rush to do this, and we’re in the same boat.
This article is part of TVWeek.com’s High Definition newsletter, a weekly source of breaking HD news, articles and interviews written by Senior Reporter James Hibberd.


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