ESPNews HD Takes Graphic Approach

Sports-programming colossus ESPN will launch its third high-definition network next year by making ESPNews available in the 720-line-progressive (720p) HD format.

The new service, scheduled to launch March 30, will complement the network’s news-driven programming by placing a bevy of graphics within the wide-screen, 16:9 HD picture. However, instead of using a 4:3 video window supplemented by graphics -- as financial network CNBC does with its HD service, CNBC HD+ -- ESPNews HD will use a downsized 16:9 video window displaying HD video.

The video window will be surrounded on the top, left side and bottom by what ESPN is calling the “HD Sideline” graphic, which will display textual information, headshots, news and scores, including additional content not offered on the standard-definition ESPNews. The new graphic will also offer new potential sponsorship placements for advertisers.

As part of the HD launch, ESPNews SD will also get a redesigned “bottom-line” graphic.

"Our HD viewers will have an unprecedented opportunity to view pristine 16x9 HD highlights accompanied by an abundance of real-time information from all areas of the sports world,” ESPN vice president of creative services Rick Paiva said in a statement. “This new graphic system will also benefit our SD viewers by providing more information without reducing the size of the current video display area."

ESPN said it currently has carriage agreements for ESPNews HD with DirecTV, Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Its existing HD networks, ESPN HD and ESPN2 HD, have 14 million and 9.4 million subscribers, respectively.