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ESPN to launch HD channel in March

Not only will you see unique camera angles when watching ESPN sports this year, starting in March, you can also watch several sporting events on ESPN in HD.

The ESPN HD channel will kick off with the all-sports network’s first Major League Baseball game on March 30. The game, featuring the Texas Rangers versus the World Champion Anaheim Angels, will join a list of sporting events to be broadcast in HD, including The Women’s NCAA Basketball Final Four, the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup and six telecasts from the College World Series.

Veteran mobile production truck companies National Mobile Television, NEP and New Century Productions have all committed to building HD-capable rigs to cover the various events for ESPN by early March.

Last September, ESPN announced its plans to launch an HDTV channel featuring a variety of 100 live, high-definition telecasts in its first year. All programming on ESPN HD will be delivered to cable systems and satellite providers in the 720p HD format.

In addition to the programming mentioned above, ESPN said most of its studio shows, including SportsCenter, will be added in 2004, providing some 3,700 hours of HDTV programming.

In related news, ESPN's sister network ABC said that Thomson’s RCA brand will sponsor its HDTV broadcast of Super Bowl XXXVII on January 26. RCA also sponsored HD coverage on CBS of the AFC Divisional Playoff games January 11 and 12, and the AFC Championship game January 19. ABC will use NEP trucks to cover the Super Bowl live from San Diego, Calif.

For ABC, it's their sixth Super Bowl telecast. Last year's game, broadcast on Fox, was the fifth most watched program in television history, attracting 131.7 million Americans (almost one in every two citizens) for all or parts of the game. The 10 most-watched shows in TV history are Super Bowls.

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