ESPN to Launch HD Service Down Under

In its first HD venture outside of the United States, ESPN announced this week that it plans to launch ESPN HD Australia later this year. The channel will be part of four new HD channels added by FOXTEL, a cable/satellite pay-TV service jointly owned by News Corp., Telstra and Consolidated Media Holdings.

ESPN said the service will not “simply be a simulcast of ESPN HD in the United States,” but rather will offer a mix of major sporting events as well as local content such as “SportsCenter” and “Pardon the Interruption Australia”.

“The launch of ESPN HD Australia reinforces our commitment to provide fans worldwide the best quality sports programming,” said Russell Wolff, executive vice president and managing director of ESPN International. “ESPN HD and ESPN2 HD have been important drivers of HD growth in the U.S and continue to be among the most frequently watched HD services. We are pleased to be offering fans in Australia that same big picture experience.”

In the United States, ESPN HD, which was launched in March 2003, currently reaches more than 15 million subscribers and is available in more than 93 million homes. ESPN2 HD reaches almost 12 million subscribers and is available in nearly 80 million homes.