FSN to begin telecasts of HD sports full time in 2009

Regional sports networks powerhouse FSN will begin around-the-clock HD telecasts in the first quarter of 2009, FSN Networks president Randy Freer said Monday at NCTA’s The Cable Show in New Orleans.

The initiative means that FSN will have the capability to produce its entire slate of more than 3000 Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, and NCAA football and basketball games in HD.

The network has found sports consistently “drives the adaptation of new technologies, and the deep emotional commitment local fans have to their teams will accelerate the HD and digital transition,” said FSN executive VP and general manager Mike Hopkins.

The 16 owned-and-operated FSN regional sports networks currently produce more than 1700 live high-definition telecasts of the MLB, NBA, NHL, and NCAA football and basketball. Since debuting its HD telecasts nearly five years ago with about 200 games, FSN has essentially doubled its HD schedule every year.

To support its full-time HD commitment, the Fox Networks Group is building Fox Network Center Houston, one of the nation’s largest state-of-the-art TV transmission center. The 184,000sq-ft facility will be able to handle as many as 40 live games in a single day.

FSN will determine HD roll-out plans for each of its individual regional sports networks based on a variety of factors, including team telecast rights and distribution agreements.