Originally Posted by mrnails
ESPN; they don't care. They don't have any respect for any sport fans; less care about picture quality.
Not true at all.
This past week Northern Illinois University played Toledo here in DeKalb, IL. I was on a safety team and got to tour the place the day before the game. Rest assured those were Sony cameras and lenses, and everything else they used was top-notch stuff too. I will say this: it is IMPOSSIBLE for ESPN to have that many production trucks. They contracted this game out. I can tell you, though, that the video quality was typical ESPN; I was watching espn3.com which was in 16:9 HD as I was getting it on a 1080p monitor. It looked OK. But the equipment and truck was no slouch: it was great equipment, all the way. I'm more than guessing that in the truck, it looked jaw-dropping.
So yes, "it's great leaving the truck" isn't an excuse for the end user, but more than likely, the issues you are seeing aren't coming from the truck. It's at ESPN, and how they compress the video before sending it back out to you.
I remember when NBC upgraded their backhaul to MPEG4 and essentially got double the bitrate to their affiliates. This happened just AFTER the last winter Olympics, but before they started replaying everything with weekend specials. Those replays of the Olympics looked considerably better than when it was live! As they say, it was fine leaving the truck.
With a ton of live feeds coming in, they probably have different paths to go through to get the games to the right places, with different equipment depending on the game and receiver they have to pick it up.
BTW, IIRC correctly, ABC and FOX upgraded their encoders and backhauls
recently; we know about NBC, and CBS, yikes-o-rama. The head of CBS has repeatedly stated for his owned-and-operated affiliates, quality is job #1, no subchannels, and cram as many bits as you can for the best picture to the viewer. And you can tell. But ESPN has a much larger plant and far more complications to get 'er done. Give them time. They can't replace equipment every year, though I bet they wish they could!