ESPN Shifts HD Coverage

Feb 22, 2007  •  Post A Comment

After years of dramatically increasing its HD coverage, ESPN is leveling off production in the format and shifting resources to seven popular sports franchises.
Bryan Burns, ESPN’s vice president of strategic business planning and development, said the network is aiming for consistent HD coverage of its most popular fare, rather than offering varying degrees of HD coverage for many different sports.
ESPN plans HD coverage of all NASCAR races, National Basketball Association telecasts, Major League Soccer telecasts, Major League Baseball games, college football telecasts, National Hot Rod Association races and National Football League Monday Night Football telecasts. The network also plans to produce about 150 college basketball games a year in HD.
“In seven sports, fans no longer need to seek out high-definition events,” Mr. Burns said.
The network will cut back HD production of events such as regional Little League baseball coverage, men’s hockey championships and short-term events.
ESPN’s total number of HD hours will be about the same as last year. The network produced 87 events in HD in 2003, 184 in 2004, 474 in 2005 (when sister network ESPN2 launched its HD simulcast) and 762 hours in 2006.
Mr. Burns hopes the restructuring will reduce viewer confusion about which events are in HD, and help insure that the highest-rated events get HD coverage.
One high-rated event that will continue to be produced in standard definition is the World Series of Poker.
“We keep looking at it, we keep talking about it, but it hasn’t made it there yet,” Mr. Burns said.


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