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ESPN Taps Thomson

ESPN pulled out the wallet and plunked down $15 million last week for the purchase of HD equipment from Thomson. ESPN's HD facility will be located in the network's new 120,000-square-foot Bristol, Conn., home and will rely on a variety of Thomson Grass Valley gear.

The new equipment includes the Grass Valley Kalypso HD switcher and a Trinix large-scale video routing switcher with 1024x512 inputs and outputs, as well as an Apex audio router with a 1500x800 input/output matrix. Grass Valley LDK 6000 mk II Standard multiformat HD cameras and several hundred 16-channel Kameleon output distribution amplifier modules will also route digital audio and video signals to the facility router and throughout the building.

The Trinix router is one of the largest installations on the East Coast, supporting SMPTE-standard data transmission rates from 3 MBps to 1.5 GBps. It will route HD and SD signals from the same frame.

ESPN's equipment bids were announced during the past year, including major wins for Quantel and BBC Technology in April. Quantel will supply 68 generationQ servers, 23 generationQ editing suites and 200 generationQ desktop editing systems. For its part, BBC Technology will handle content sharing and material flow throughout the facility.

The Thomson gear, particularly the HD studio cameras, will play a major role in the new facility. Current viewers of ESPN-HD complain about the network's use of standard-definition content like SportsCenter. But with the HD gear in place early next year, the network will be on schedule for its April launch of an HD version of SportsCenter
and other studio programs.