June 13, 2004

Turning A Corner?

The 800-lb gorilla of sports television, ESPN's SportsCenter, is now showing in HD several times a day on ESPN-HD. Using their new HD production studio, ESPN intermixes live HD anchors with 4x3 SD highlights (and sometimes HD highlights when available). It looks pretty good, believe it or not.

The most notable impact to regular ESPN-HD viewing is that now even their non-HD programming is 4x3 with side-bars rather than the poorly stretched abomination they used before. I can actually watch ESPN-HD now, even for regular SD content. Interestingly, the sidebars aren't fixed graphics, but move ever so slightly to prevent burn-in (for those who haven't correctly calibrated their monitors). A nice touch.

So now that even the gorilla is in HD, what will this do to the already steadily rising HD viewership? Given that it's generally men driving the purchase of HD sets and set top boxes, the fact that a show highly watched by Joe Six Pack is now HD bodes extremely well for continuing that trend. We've turned a corner, there's no going back. What's next? For starers, cable and satellite companies fully carrying HD locals. Getting rid of the UHF antennas that have found their way back onto our roofs and living rooms is one more step on the evolutionary ladder. As long as Joe Six Pack needs a separate antenna for local HD programming, his hands are tied.

Posted by pinkerton at June 13, 2004 6:12 PM