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ESPN's Digital Center To Open June 7

ESPN's Digital Center, touted as the largest HD facility in North America, will open June 7, the network announced this week.

The 6:00 p.m. edition of SportsCenter will officially kick off the launch of one of the industry's most eagerly awaited HD initiatives. Although the ESPN HD channel has been on the air since 2003, most HD programming has been limited to Sunday night football and one time sporting events. ESPN HD has carriage agreements with most major cable and satellite providers.

Occupying more than 120,000 square feet, the Bristol-Conn. based facility will feature state of the art HD equipment and infrastructure. The building will contain more than seven million feet of cable and three HDTV studios totaling 17,000 square feet. ESPN HD plans to deliver 185 locally produced events in HD in 2004, and when the building is expected to be totally completed in 2005, viewers can expect to see up to 3,500 hours of originally produced hi-def studio programming annually. HD telecasts will include games from Major League Baseball, the NBA, NHL, NFL college football and basketball games as well as movies from ESPN's Original Entertainment (EOE) division.

"ESPN's conversion from analog to high-definition digital will be a significant milestone for the entire company," said Chuck Pagano, ESPN Sr. VP of Technology, Engineering and Operations. "To become entirely digital, we must have the technical capability to ingest an enormous amount of content from a wide variety of sources and digitally prepare it for 720 line progressive HDTV, and with this new facility, we will now be able to do so."