Look Sharp

Channels big and small make the turn to high-def
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Look what's finally here: high-definition television. Not only are cable- and broadcast-network executives increasingly interested in the quality of HDTV picture, but they're encouraged by the quantity of HD sets flowing into the marketplace.

This year alone, the Yankee Group estimates that Americans will buy 6 million or 7 million HD sets; that's on top of the 9 million that are already out there. It's now plausible that you know somebody with high-definition television. That wasn't so even 18 months ago.

As HD seems to be catching on, broadcasters and cable programmers are focusing on it. Since
B&C
surveyed HD programming in the Jan. 26 issue, PBS and Starz Encore have launched services. TNT HD begins operation this month with coverage of the NBA finals. And Fox has announced plans for its first HD programming in September or October, when at least half of its prime time schedule will be in high-def.

Today, more than 40 services offer or plan to offer significant amounts of high-def programming. The following list samples their slates. In the year to come, all evidence suggests, more networks are sure to join the pack.

ABC


Owner:
The Walt Disney Co.
What's there:
A leader in HD programming, ABC was the first major network to air HD programming, broadcasting the theatrical presentation of The Wonderful World of Disney: 101 Dalmatians
Nov. 1, 1998. By the end of the 2003-04 season, the network will have aired more than 800 hours of HDTV programming. All of its prime time sitcoms and dramas, the ABC Movie of the Week, the NBA finals, and Monday Night Football
now get the HD treatment.
What's missing:
Reality and news programs
Bravo HD+
Owner
NBC
What's there
Launched in third quarter 2003, Bravo airs such programming as The West Wing, Cirque de Soleil, Music in High Places, and All Access, which features such rockers as Sting, Sheryl Crow, and Dave Matthews. Upcoming fare on the all-HD channel includes a high-def replay of NBC's coverage of racing's Triple Crown.

CBS


Owner
Viacom
What's there
An early adopter, CBS gives the HD treatment to all its sitcoms and dramas, as well as to some movies and special events, including the Grammy Awards. During the 2003-04 season, HD sports programming included one SEC college football game each week, one NFL game, The Masters golf tournament, U.S. Open tennis, and some of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Daytime viewers can also watch The Young and the Restless
in HD.
What's missing
News and reality programming haven't been upgraded to HD. Although the network wants to shoot Late Night With David Letterman
in high-def, the studio configuration poses some technical problems, and no firm date has been set for the start of HD production.

Cinemax HD


Owner
Time Warner
What's there
Launched in November of 2003, the HD version of Cinemax, which includes Cinemax East and Cinemax West feeds, offers about 75% of its movies and original documentaries in high-def. Upcoming titles in May and June include Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Bend It Like Beckham, Daredevil, X2, Head of State, and The Order.

Comcast SportsNet HDTV


Owner
There are three regional channels, each with a different owner: Comcast owns the Washington/Baltimore feed; Comcast and Spectacor own the Philadelphia service; Comcast, the Chicago Bulls, the Blackhawks, the Cubs, and the White Sox own the Chicago service, which will launch next fall.
What's there
The Philadelphia channel features HD telecasts of the home games of the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers, MLB's Philadelphia Phillies, and NHL's Philadelphia Flyers. The Washington/Baltimore service has HD broadcasts of home games of NBA's Washington Wizards, MLB's Baltimore Orioles, and NHL's Washington Capitals. When the Chicago network bows, it will feature HD home games of the NBA's Chicago Bulls, NHL's Blackhawks, and MLB's Cubs and White Sox.
What's missing
Away games.

Discovery HD Theater


Owner
Discovery Communications
What's there
The first basic-cable programmer to launch an HD channel, Discovery Networks is pushing all its services to boost HD production. It recently made a multimillion-dollar investment in Atlas HD
, a series of more than 20 two-hour specials. Discovery HD Theater offers a mix of content from Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Travel Channel, Discovery Health, Discovery Times, and The Science Channel. Besides big budget specials like Atlas HD, the all-HD schedule includes such popular series as Trading Spaces, Monster Garage, American Chopper, The Jeff Corwin Experience, Extreme Engineering, and The World's Biggest, Baddest Bugs.

Encore HD


Owner
Starz Encore Group
What's there
Launched March 22, Encore HD features blockbuster theatricals. Upcoming titles include Lord of the Ring: Fellowship of the Ring, Black Hawk Down, and Mortal Kombat.

ESPN HD


Owner
The Walt Disney Co.
What's there
Launched in March 2003, ESPN plans 185 HD sporting events this year, including MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL games. ESPN is adding more HD trucks, which will allow it to expand the number of games available in HD, and is opening a digital facility to produce such studio shows. The first HD studio show will be the 11 p.m. version of SportsCenter
, which will be bow June 7.
What's missing
Not all games are in HD.

Fox Television Network


Owner
Fox Entertainment Group
What's there
An HD latecomer, Fox will not air any entertainment programming in the format until next September or October, when it will air at least half its prime time schedule in 720p and Dolby Digital 5.1. Next fall, the network will broadcast as many as five or six NFL games in HD each week. All playoff games and the Super Bowl will also get the high-def treatment.
What's missing
For the moment, everything.

Fox Sports Net HD


Owner
Fox Entertainment Group
What's there
Fox Sports owned-and-operated regional networks are creating HD broadcasts of NBA, NHL, and MLB games for local cable systems that want it. By the end of the 2003-04 season, Fox will have run about 100 NBA and NHL games. This summer, it will offer at least 68 MLB games in HD.

HBO HDTV


Owner
Time Warner
What's there
Launched in 1999, the service has East Coast and West Coast feeds, and about 77% of the theatrical films, original movies and original series offered are now in HD. Upcoming programming in May and June includes original series TheSopranos, Six Feet Under
and freshman drama Deadwood; HBO Films'Something the Lord Made; and theatrical films The Matrix Reloaded, Bruce Almighty, and Terminator 3:

HDNet


Owner
Co-founders Mark Cuban and Philip Garvin
What's there
The network, which was launched in 2001, now features NHL and Major League Soccer, documentaries, news (including HDNet World Report), and syndicated series, including Andy Richter Controls the Universe
and The WB's Smallville.

HDNet Movies


Owner
Co-founders Mark Cuban and Philip Garvin
What's there
Launched in January 2003, the all HD network features theatrical movies from such studios as Warner Bros., Sony, and Paramount. Upcoming titles include Havana
and Falcon and the Snowman.

INHD/INHD2


Owner
In Demand Networks
What's there
The two channels feature movies, sports, and special events, including some PGA events, Warren Miller skiing movies, and IMAX movies. This month, INHD will air PGA events, such as The Wachovia Championship, The EDS Byron Nelson Championship, and The Bank of America Colonial. The channels also distribute HD programming for a number of other networks, including CSTV: College Sports Television, Outdoor Channel, Tennis Channel, E! Entertainment Channel, and USA Network.

MSG Network HDTV/FSNY HD


Owner
Cablevision owns MSG; Fox Entertainment Group owns Fox Sports NY. The two are listed together here because FSNY is an affiliate of MSG and occasionally airs MSG games when two games are scheduled for the same time.
What's there
New York-area basketball and hockey, along with some news and information shows. Regional sports net MSG offers telecasts of home games of NBA's New York Knicks, NHL's New York Rangers, and MLB's New York Mets. FSNY offers home games of NHL's New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils as well as MSG games when the Knicks, Rangers, or Mets have games at the same time.
What's missing
Away games.

NBC


Owner
General Electric
What's there
NBC began to air a significant amount of HD programming in the 2002-03 season and, in 2003-04, required all new shows to be shot in HD, a policy that will continue with next year's rookies. While its popular block of Thursday-evening sitcoms hasn't yet joined the high-def world, prime time offerings currently include American Dreams, Crossing Jordan, ER, Frasier, Las Vegas, Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, The West Wing, and Whoopi, as well as some theatrical and made-for-TV movies. The 2004 Summer Games will be available in HD but will be delayed one day; other HD sports include NASCAR's 2004 Dayton 500. Late-night fans can see The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, the first show NBC offered in HD.
What's missingFriends, Will & Grace, and Scrubs. No word on when Conan O'Brien's studio will be ready for HD production.

NBA TV HD


Owner
NBA
What's there
The 2003-04 season lineup included as many as 50 NBA regular-season and playoff games in HD. The league will likely offer a fulltime HD channel during the 2004-05 season.

NFL Network HD


Owner
NFL
What's there
The NFL will launch its HD service in August, offering a simulcast of the NFL Network. Expect content from NFL Films, some preseason games, and two "one-hour" versions of league games or, in any event, some truncated version of games on Wednesday and Thursday nights.

NFL Sunday Ticket


Owner
DirecTV
What's there
In 2003, one game a week was available from CBS and one from Fox. Fox's decision to film five or six games a week in HD during the 2004 season will probably add to the HD games available on DirecTV. However, no plans for adding to the HD offerings have been announced.

New England Sports Net HD


Owner
Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins
What's there
The regional sports network began Red Sox and Bruins home games last fall and, during this year's MLB season, will offer home games for Red Sox in HD.
What's missing
Away games

PBS HD


Owner
Private, non-profit
What's there
Launched March 1, PBS HD offers high-def and widescreen programming 24 hours a day. Initially available in about 85% of the country on the 236 public stations that have moved to digital broadcasting and on the cable systems that have agreed to retransmit the signal, PBS HD will be programmed with a mix of new and old content, including Nova, Nature, and Great Performances.

Playboy TV


Owner
Playboy Enterprises
What's there
HD adult entertainment

Showtime HD


Owner
Viacom
What's there
Launched in January 2000, the service features theatrical films, original movies, and original series. In 2003, it expanded the number of original series shot in HD to include Queer as Folk, The Chris Isaak Show, Free for All, Dead Like Me, Soul Food, Street Time, and The L Word. Huff, which will premier next fall, will also be available in HD. In February, Showtime HD began running all domestic Showtime Championship Boxing
fight cards in HD and, in March, offered its first HD concert, a performance by Britney Spears.
What's missing
Reality shows like Family Business
and Penn & Teller: Bullshit!.

Spice HD


Owner
Playboy Enterprises
What's there
Erotic HD programming, including live entertainment and interactive shows The Nooner
and Spice Clips.

Starz! HD


Owner
Starz Encore Group
What's there
Starz announced plans for an HD service last year at the NCTA National Show and launched the HD movie channel in December. Upcoming titles on the two feeds, Starz! HD West and Starz! HD East, include Daddy Daycare
and Blade II.

The Movie Channel HD


Owner
Viacom
What's there
On Dec. 1, the network launched with an East Coast feed and currently about 75% of its prime time schedule is in true HD.

TNT HD


Owner
Time Warner
What's there
TNT plans to launch an HD channel this month with its coverage of the NBA's Western Conference Finals. The service will mirror the cable net's regular feed with NBA action, NASCAR races, off-net series, and original movies.

UPN


Owner
Viacom
What's there
Another recent adopter, the network offers such fare as Star Trek: Enterprise
in HD. UPN Friday Night Movie
often features HD movies.
What's missingEve
and the sitcom lineup

The WB


Owner
Time Warner and Tribune Co.
What's there
Now in its second year of HD programming, The WB offers nine or 10 hours a week, including Gilmore Girls, Everwood, Angel, Reba, What I like About You, Summerland, One Tree Hill, and Smallville, and Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
in November.
What's missing7th Heaven, Charmed, and some other prime time shows.

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