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ESPN HD info (1 Viewer)

Michael Mathius

Senior HTF Member
Nov 12, 2000
The following is a question and answer interview conducted with Bryan Burns, ESPN strategic business planning and development VP, at TWICE's offices in late February.

TWICE: As this went to press, we still had not seen a carriage announcement. Are you finding resistance to take the service?

Burns: We will have a number of announcements to make as we get close to launch. I think cable operators are very motivated to do this. I haven't seen any lack of desire. We all have to figure out the economics — from their standpoint what its costs to build and rebuild, and from our standpoint what it costs to build and produce

TWICE: What size audience do you expect when you throw the switch on March 30?

Burns: I think it's fair to say this will not be a massive at-launch situation. I don't think HDTV is massive at this point. So I think the launch of ESPN-HD will mirror where that market is.

TWICE: Will you charge your cable MSOs extra to carry ESPN-HD?

Burns: We are proposing to offer what we call a technical service to our affiliates. This is not an inexpensive operation we are running, so we would require a technical service fee from our affiliates [cable operators] to carry ESPN-HD. What we expect will result — and this will vary by operator — is the cable operator will assemble some sort of programming tier, where they would package together a number of HD channels.

TWICE: How do you think those cable operators, who don't currently charge extra for their HDTV services, will handle this?

Burns: I think it is inevitable that they will eventually have to charge for this. But we have seen different strategies, and all of our customers have different ideas about how to do this.

It seems that left to ESPN we should be paying an additional fee for each new HD channel. Should we expect the same form Cinemax, Encore, Starz HD channels?

Wayne Bundrick

Senior HTF Member
May 17, 1999
A HD movie service is cheaper than live HD sports. Live HD sports means HD cameras, HD production trucks, HD graphics, HD instant replay, HD satellite backhaul, etc. The cost of all this when it started a few years ago had an extra zero on the price tag but it's probably a little cheaper now. Note that ABC had a season of Monday Night Football which was funded by Panasonic, then ABC dropped it after Panasonic dropped their funding. ABC had no other live events in HD until this year, but their movies have almost always been HD since they started doing HD.

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