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ESPN America HD launches in Europe


Thanks to BSkyB, now housewives in the United Kingdom and Ireland can join their counterparts in North America who complain their husbands are watching way too much "Sports Center" each night.

ESPN America HD launched in the UK and Ireland on Monday, June 21, the Bristol, Conn.-based broadcaster announced.

ESPN America said most of its content to start with (85 percent) will be produced live or recorded in HD (720p) — while the rest will be upconverted to 16:9 "HD" (which gives the perception of HD without really achieving it). Eventually, ESPN said virtually all its content will be fed in 720p.

This is hardly the sports network's initial launch in the U.K., although it is its first HD channel via satellite. Already up and running in the U.K. and Ireland are ESPN (SD), ESPN HD, ESPN Classic (SD) and ESPN America (SD). With this week's ESPN America HD launch, ESPN can now boast of two fulltime HD sports venues serving Britain and the Emerald Isle — a feat so far matched only by Sky Sports itself.

ESPN America HD will be available to existing ESPN HD subs in the U.K. and Ireland at no extra charge. ESPN America HD already is carried in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden on France's Canal Digital.