ESPN Announces ESPN HD
Plans Significantly Bolster Affiliates’ Efforts to Roll Out HDTV
Bristol, Conn. - ESPN President George Bodenheimer announced today "a new chapter in ESPN's history and the future of sports television" with plans to provide a high-definition simulcast service of its premier network ESPN to be launched in April of 2003. ESPN HD will include in its first year 100 live telecasts - featuring Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Football League (NFL), and the National Hockey League (NHL) - produced and distributed in high-definition television (HDTV).
"ESPN is making a significant commitment to spur the growth of high-definition television," said Bodenheimer. "Sports will be a key driver of HDTV, and it is only fitting, that ESPN plays a leadership role in serving our fans, affiliates, advertisers and rights holders in advancing the adoption of digital technology."
Sean Bratches, ESPN executive vice president affiliate sales and marketing, said, "We were among the first to support our distribution partners with content for their digital rollouts, and today we're thrilled to be extending that effort to high-definition television. ESPN has led the way in marrying the highest quality content with revolutionary technology, and we're pleased to provide our distribution partners with what we believe to be the most compelling HDTV content -- sports."
Telecasts to be produced in high-definition television in 2003 and 2004 include:
Select games from Major League Baseball, the NBA, the NFL and the NHL
A variety of ESPN Original Entertainment proprietary programming including the X Games, the world's premier action sports event, Great Outdoors Games programming and the ESPY Awards
Live college championship events including the Women's Final Four and the ACC Men's Basketball Tournament
In addition to the programming mentioned above, most studio shows, including SportsCenter, will be added in 2004 providing an additional 3,700 hours of originally produced HDTV programming.
All high-definition programming on ESPN HD will be delivered to cable systems and satellite providers in 720p high-definition format. ESPN will digitally convert the rest of the existing ESPN signal to 720p for viewing on high-definition television sets.
ESPN HD will be managed by ESPN vice president Bryan Burns and will report to Rick Alessandri, vice president, ESPN Enterprises.
ESPN, Inc., The Worldwide Leader in Sports, is a multinational, multimedia sports entertainment company featuring the broadest portfolio of multimedia assets in sports marketing with over 40 business entities. The company is comprised of six domestic television networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN Now, ESPN Today), ESPN International (25 international networks and syndication), ESPN Radio, ESPN.com, ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Regional Television, SportsTicker and ESPN Enterprises, overseeing brand extensions such as ESPN Zone, an interactive sports-themed dining and entertainment experience. ESPN recently announced ESPN Deportes, a 24-hour Spanish-language network that will launch in the third quarter of 2003. Based in Bristol, Ct., ESPN is 80 percent owned by ABC, Inc, which is an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. The Hearst Corporation holds a 20 percent interest in ESPN.