Fox Sports Net regional networks are stepping up with HD game telecasts in a big way, nearly doubling the amount of HD games to 1,000 between now and the end of 2007.
“Our motivation is simple,” says Randy Freer, FSN COO. “HD makes for a better production and consumers who have HD miss it when it’s not there.”
The coverage will include an increase in NBA, MLB, and NHL coverage as well as select college football and basketball events. In total FSN's 18 owned-and-operated regional sports networks are planning to produce more than 2,500 hours of live, event programming HD.
Freer says FSN will roll out as much HD as their facilities and personnel will support, working with its professional and collegiate partners as well as distributors to deliver the best HD viewing experience.
The network has also taken a different approach to cutting HD production costs. Because FSN has 18 networks it often finds itself broadcasting both the home and away telecasts. The typical set up for a sporting event has one production truck for the home team and one for the away team. But since FSN was writing both those checks the network has housed both broadcast teams in the same truck, resulting in cost savings.
“The truck has two control rooms and the visiting broadcast team shares the line cut with the home team,” says Sellers. “And we’ve developed the system to the point where the visiting team now has three of their own cameras, replay devices, and graphics so they can cut their own show.”
Freer says the NHL strike was a hiccup that slowed down some of the conversion to HD but with both the NHL and NAB in action the time is right. “And at the end of next year we’ll open a new facility in Houston that will give us the ability to do more HD like non-event related programming.”
FSN regional networks contributing local HD game production include FSN Arizona, FSN Detroit, FSN Florida, FSN Indiana, FSN Midwest, FSN North, FSN Northwest, FSN Ohio, FSN Pittsburgh, FSN Rocky Mountain, FSN South, FSN Southwest, FSN Houston, FSN Utah, FSN West, Prime Ticket, SportSouth, and Sun Sports.1