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Channel 4 San Diego produces first collegiate baseball game in HDTV

Channel 4 San Diego plans to use its newly revamped digital teleproduction vehicle to produce 104 San Diego Padres baseball games in HD. The station also plans to produce 50 other sporting events in HD this year.

PETCO Park, the new home of the San Diego Padres, played host to a bit of television history in mid-March when Cox Communications broadcast the first college baseball game produced in high0definition television to its cable subscribers.

The March 14 game between San Diego State University and the University of Nebraska was the final game of the four-day Aztec Invitational tournament. Nebraska won 6-2.

The game was produced and distributed by Cox Communications Channel 4 San Diego, a cable channel specializing in the local origination of high school, college and professional sports, the arts and special news programming. An estimated 25,000 cable subscribers in San Diego County currently can receive HDTV.

"With this HD broadcast, collegiate sports have recorded another first in television history," said Channel 4 vice president and general manager Dan Novak.

"The first baseball game ever televised was the Princeton versus Columbia contest covered by NBC at Baker Field, New York in 1939, and now Cox is proud to have delivered another first in collegiate sports with the HD broadcast of this historic event."

Channel 4 San Diego used its newly revamped digital teleproduction vehicle to produce the game in HD. The cable channel, which produced the game in 1080i and downconverted the signal for SD viewers, used seven Philips HD cameras to cover the contest. Graphics and character generation were created in SD and upconverted; however, Channel 4 San Diego plans to upgrade to HD graphics generation as equipment prices fall and performance improves, said Novak.

Channel 4 San Diego, the exclusive rights holder for San Diego Padres baseball, plans to use its HD truck to produce 104 of the franchise’s games in high definition, as well as 50 other sporting events in HD this year.

For the Aztec-Cornhusker game, Path 1's Cx1000 video gateways were used to deliver the HD-quality signal over Cox's fiber network to Cox studios for immediate broadcast to Cox's customers in the San Diego market.

According to Novak, Channel 4 San Diego has spent “several million dollars” to update its remote truck and facilities to produce live events in HD, but the expense will be worthwhile.

“We think the production of sports in HD will be the key initiative driving viewer acceptance of high-definition television,” he said. “We expect the number of HD cable households to triple this year and double the year after that. Channel 4 in HD will be a significant contributor to that.”

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