ESPN, Comcast Reach HD Carriage Deal

The high-definition version of the leading sports network will soon be available from the nation's top cable operator.

Comcast will make ESPN HD available in markets where it currently offers HDTV service as well as on a broader level as additional HD markets are launched this year. The company says it offers HDTV to 11.5 million viewers.

For ESPN and the movement for high-definition television in general, the deal is a major milestone in linking one of the most popular networks with the massive reach of Philadelphia-based Comcast.

"As the number one sports television brand in America, we are very pleased that ESPN HD will soon be available to Comcast's customer base and its growing audience of high-definition customers," said George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN Inc. and ABC Sports. "Sports fans are enjoying access to more and more high-definition content, and we are thrilled to work with Comcast, a leader in the HD arena, to offer them this compelling sports experience."

Comcast has already stepped up to the plate with high-definition versions of its regional sports networks.

Financial details of the agreement were not announced.

"We are pleased to be able to bring our customers outstanding content from ESPN with all the sights, sounds and unbelievable detail of sports programming that only an HDTV signal can provide," said Steve Burke, president of Comcast Cable. "The addition of ESPN HD demonstrates our continuing commitment to provide our customers with the most robust high-definition content possible."