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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
From The Boston Globe


NESN, Comcast are about to redefine Sox coverage

By Bill Griffith, Globe Staff, 9/14/2003


Television is all about ''WOWs.'' Those are the unexpected plays or events

that jump through the screen and grab the viewer, prompting a ''Did you see that?'' reaction.


One of those moments is coming tomorrow night when New England Sports

Network and Comcast begin broadcasting Red Sox home games in high

definition.


In addition, work is under way to upgrade wiring at the FleetCenter, and

NESN plans to air all Bruins home games in the HD format as well.


''There is nothing else we could have done that would have the impact this

will,'' said Sean McGrail, president of NESN. ''People truly will see the

Red Sox and Bruins in a way they never have before. It is a major elevation

of the entertainment experience.''


Comcast took over the AT&T cable franchise last winter and has already

established itself as being aggressive in rolling out new products and

upgrading customer service. Cable's big competition is from satellite

service providers, and Comcast recognized the value in a strategic alliance

with the Red Sox, especially at this time of year, when DirecTV is wooing

subscribers with its ''NFL Season Ticket'' package.


''I'd been thinking about this for a long time,'' said McGrail. ''There's

been a lot of chicken-and-egg talk in the TV industry in referring to which

would come first, the increase in HD TV sales or the programming that would spur those sales. Someone had to make a major jump, and we've done that.''


Since July, Fenway Park very quietly has been rewired with fiber-optic

cable, one production truck was refurbished (at a cost of $4 million) and

another is being built, a fiber line was run to NESN's Needham relaying

facility, and all the technical equipment was retrofitted.


In addition, ''vacationing'' production staffers actually were being

retrained in HD production and digital editing, and games were being

simulcast at the ballpark on side-by-side (standard and HD) cameras.


''We have a unique franchise, and this is a gesture to our viewing public,''

said McGrail, who emphasized that the money was spent without any costs

being passed on to subscribers.


''There's no question that the tremendous expense of making the change is

keeping other broadcasters from doing it, but actually it was the difficulty

in obtaining the new HD equipment -- receivers, recorders, up-converters --

that was the hardest part of the whole changeover. We knew the price of all this would drop significantly in the next five years and we could have

gotten away with waiting, but we decided to swing for the fences. We're

going to do all our games in HD, where other carriers are doing far fewer.''


McGrail said NESN ''will start doing road games as soon as possible from

those arenas that have fiber-optic wiring and where mobile HD production

trucks are available.''


This will put NESN in the vanguard of a small group of regional networks

producing their own high-definition signals, including MSG Network in New

York and Comcast Net in Philadelphia.


Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said, ''You can't overstate how thrilled we are both at being on HD and having this partnership with Comcast.''


Comcast is the team's biggest cable carrier, but Werner indicated that

others, such as Cox, Charter, Adelphia, and Time Warner, have indicated

great interest in carrying NESN's HD signal by the end of the year.


NESN HD will be available on Channel 882 on Comcast's High Definition

digital tier (the analog version of the NESN broadcast remains on its

present spot on the cable dial). The addition of NESN gives Comcast an HD

lineup in Boston of Channel 2, Channel 5, Channel 7, ESPN HD, HBO HD,

Showtime, and NESN. In addition, starting tomorrow, a pair of ''iN HD''

channels will join the tier. These are being produced by the In Demand

pay-per-view people (except these aren't at extra charge) and will offer a

wide variety of sports and movies.


The only extra charge for the HD channels for Comcast digital cable

subscribers is the $2 monthly upgrade to an HD box ($7.25 per month,

compared with $5.25 for a digital box). Comcast, with some 20,000 HD

subscribers now, expects to be adding 1,000 per week through the end of the year.


Meanwhile, Comcast continues negotiating to add both Fox (Channel 25) and CBS (Channel 4) to the HD package. CBS, with 11 remaining Patriots

regular-season games this season, would be a big addition, although this

year the network is doing only one feature NFL game per week in HD (today's Patriots-Eagles is in HD for fans who can get HD over the air or on

DirecTV). At least three Patriots games will be seen in Boston in HD: the

two ESPN night games (vs. Cowboys Nov. 16 and at Jets Dec. 20) and the ABC ''Monday Night Football'' game in Denver Nov. 3.


''We had conversations on the idea back in May and finally got it together

in July, working in earnest to hit a Sept. 15 target date,'' said Kevin Casey, senior vice president of Comcast's New England region. ''The folks at NESN saw it as the future of sports on TV. At Comcast, we feel movies and sports bring out the best in high definition.''


Casey can see the HD TV movement finally gaining serious momentum. ''We've spent millions upgrading our network, and now it looks as though we're finishing just in time,'' he said. ''We're starting to see affordable HD-ready TV sets, and the projections are that this will be an HD TV Christmas in the electronic stores.''


The technocrats tell us that an HD picture is six times sharper than today's

analog pictures, the color resolution is twice as good, and the accompanying audio feed is CD-quality surround sound.


Those who see Fenway in HD tomorrow evening likely will say the park never looked so good . . . and WOW.
 

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Ken,


What does InHD have to do with NESN? From the article, I am under the impression that NESN did this by themselves, and the only mention of InHD is that Comcast will be offering those channels starting at the same time...but maybe there's more there's more to the story...
 

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I saw the message on my DCT5100 this morning and was elated! I remember Remy and Orsillo bantering back and forth awhile back about whether or not they'd be wearing more makeup once they were being broadcast in HD. Well start powdering up boys, because that day is finally here! I wonder if tomorrow's game will be the first one simulcast in HD? Anyone here anything?


Now all we need is for InHD to pick up Fox Sports New England Celtics broadcasts, and we can have a New England sports clean sweep in HDTV!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by deagle
As a Boston fan who doesn't have Comcast as a local provider but does have Directv, is there any word yet on NESN HD being picked up soon by DTV???
DirecTV won't carry NESN in HD anytime soon. A better hope is for them to pickup INHD, which is a possibility. Remote, yes, but a possibility nevertheless.
 

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If you thought that the ESPN HD issue was big earlier this year then just wait. It'll be nothing like the clammer (especially by New Englanders) to add NESN HD to the Directv lineup. There's no doubt that laround here, left to choose one or the other, ESPN HD would get the boot!!! I'd have to assume that Directv will view this as a threat that may loose many subscribers to the local cable comapnies who have been much more progressive in offering HD format to their customers.
 

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What about NESN HD Red Sox games being simulcast by D* as a part of the MLB Extra Innings package. Similar to the bomp D* dropped by simulcasting NFL HD games on Sunday Ticket.


Please say mabye Ken.:)
 

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Any word on whether RCN (Boston area) will pick up NESN HD? Or should I start badgering them to carry it?


(By the way, this is the coolest thing ever. Next summer, that means >60 Red Sox games in HD. HDTV is really picking up steam. Good stuff!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by dum_71
What about NESN HD Red Sox games being simulcast by D* as a part of the MLB Extra Innings package. Similar to the bomp D* dropped by simulcasting NFL HD games on Sunday Ticket.
Never say never, but I think the INHD deal precludes this.
 

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I don't expect D* to broadcast the HD anytime soon, but I hope the picture quality of the SD broadcast improves with the better equipment. I always seem to notice that the channel has a pretty decent PQ compared to some other D* SD stations, but there is one camera behind home plate on the first base side that is absolutely horrible. It looks like my convergence board is fried when I see it. Colors all over the place. Whites have a blue sheen, reds bleed etc. All other cameras are better than average PQ though.


Maybe HD can give the Sox a boost into the playoffs! :)


Ralph
 

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I read this yesterday and i'm in shock, this is great. My opinion is that HDTV is making major strides in programing, at this pace, I think alot of people will be making the jump to HDTV sets before the year is over. I have friends over every sunday and they are all in the process of buying a new tv set. Awsome!:)
 

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For Comcast's sake, it's too bad it's happening so close to the end of the Sox season, but this is HUGE! There's no doubt it's going to drive some big-time sales come next April (and after the initial spike, of course).


The next question is, what's going to happen on those occasions in April, May, and June when the Sox and Bruins play at the same time? Sox on InHD1 and B's on InHD2, perhaps?


- Geddy
 

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As of Noon here in Taunton, WFXT and the in HD's are listed in teh guide, but all show as being available shortly. All other HD's are OK, so they must not have finished setting up the head end yet.


Hopefully by tonight.


Tim
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Ken H
Never say never, but I think the INHD deal precludes this.
What about some of the other teams that are getting some HD coverage like the Mets, Phillies, Orioles?


Might they ever be on EI in HD?
 

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I think my 1 yr agreement with D* is up next January, and was seriously considering Comcast. This will definitely move me to switch, mainly for the Sox games. Since there are only 8 home games left for the Sox this year I'll wait through the winter before I do anything rash like selling my HD200 receiver. At that point I'll either drop D* to a minimum or cancel them altogether.


Sports is all that matters to me, if the Sox and Bruins are in HD on Comcast I am there. Who knows, if the Fleet Center is wired for HD maybe we'll see a Bruins game or two on HDNET?
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by BGMurphy2003
Does anyone know if the NESN broadcast in HD will also be shown on the Hartford Comcast system?


Thanks.
An email I received from NESN yesterday, although it doesn't "really answer" your question. I'm in the same boat (Hartford area)...


Thanks for your recent email about NESN in HDTV.


Beginning tonight (Monday, September 15th), NESN will produce all of our Red

Sox and Bruins home games in HDTV.


NESN's HDTV signal is currently available through Comcast Cable in most of

Massachusetts and New Hampshire, Maine and Connecticut. All that is

required is a HDTV Set-top box ($7.25 per month) with your choice of Comcast

cable service. HDTV customers can continue to receive analog, standard

cable and digital cable channels.


We hope to have HDTV broadcasts of Red Sox and Bruins games delivered

throughout the rest of New England in the near future. Please check our Web

site frequently (www . nesn . com) for any updates on other providers that will

carry NESN in HDTV.


Sincerely,

Gary A. Roy

Promotions/Public Relations Manager
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Excerpted from Multichannel News, by Matt Stump.


Comcast announced a deal with New England Sports Network to carry the rest of this year's Boston Red Sox Major League Baseball games and all of the home games of the National Hockey League’s Boston Bruins for the 2003-04 season in HD.


The package will cover eight Red Sox games from now until season's end and 36 Bruins contests.


Comcast's HD lineup in the area includes HBO, Showtime, ESPN HD, two channels from In Demand and the ABC, NBC and PBS affiliates.
 
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