I remember wwhen my ABC affiliate here in Chicago hyped it up big time. But, they had a big crew on hand to do it, and got it done in one day. They had glitches, they all do. I don't know if they tested it offline, or what. But they did it inbetween newscasts...on a Saturday.
The NBC affiliate went HD on a 1 AM broadcast, normally a rerun! The anchors explained they were living and doing a "test run" of their new HD equipment. You could tell they were tired! The next night, they went back to SD. I think they did thiss a few nights in a row, so it was a long week for them! Finally, the week after, after evaluating the glitches and correcting them, they went live. It was almost flawless. One flaw was that it was TOO good: they had no skin filters on the cameras, so every facial blemish could now be seen. And unfortunately, there was a lot to be seen! A few months later, I believe, they put on a mild filter. But the first night, I remember seeing a staffer's desk in the newsroom with a photo of presumably him and his wife hugging each other. But I don't think they had the staffing that ABC does. So they definitely did it right. One station went HD, and didn't announce it for 4 days. They were "testing new equipment", and all of a sudden, after it was obvious they were having no major issues, they announced that "tonight, we'll officially be in HD!".
I offer this advice: if you know a station is really close to going HD, and gives a "hard launch" date, watch for tests the week or two before. Maybe a 1 AM rerun is live, and HD. Or a 5 PM, or on their least-watched newscast on a Saturday night.