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ESPN to offer simulcast SD/HD ad buys in April

ESPN will begin accepting 16:9 HD commercials April 1 on a 24/7 basis on ESPN HD and ESPN HD2 from advertisers, according to Bryan Burns, ESPN's vice president of strategic business planning and development.

During a presentation Jan. 4 at the HDTV Business Conference in Las Vegas, Burns said the move will provide advertisers with a way to simulcast SD and HD commercials by pairing ESPN with ESPN HD and ESPN2 with ESPN2 HD for simulcast SD/HD commercial insertion.

The move will make ESPN one of the first networks to offer a 24/7 simulcast commercial SD/HD buy available on a nationwide basis, said Burns. It is consistent with ESPN’s growing commitment to HD event production and presentation. During the just concluded college bowl season, the network produced 24 of 25 collegiate football bowls in HDTV.

According to Burns, 15 percent of the decision to offer the simulcast SD/HD opportunity can be attributed to demand from advertisers and agencies. Eighty-five percent can be attributed to the network’s attempt to pull advertisers into HD.

In 2006, ESPN plans to telecast more than 600 events in HDTV. That compares with 475 events last year and 87 events when ESPN began offering HD in 2003.

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