GMA Likely to Beat Competition to HD

ABC's "Good Morning America" will become the first network broadcast that contains daily news coverage to go HD, as well as the first network morning program to make the transition, by fall.

All seven GMAs stripped across the week will make the transition to ABC's preferred 720p format, which will require a new (or newly furnished) set and props, given HD's somewhat unforgiving detail--not to mention refitting ABC's Time Square studios in Manhattan with HD equipment (which has not yet been specified).

Since GMA producer ABC News did the U.S. presidential inauguration in HD on Jan. 20, news execs said they were fascinated by the vivid detail and potential applications of 720p. Tapping GMA to go first down the HD path means the Disney-owned network will begin each broadcast day with two hours of HD. According to published reports, 720p will be restricted to GMA's mostly live studio content; its field coverage of news and features will have to be upconverted for now.

GMA has been running a close second in the important morning ratings with perpetual leader "Today" on NBC. ("The Early Show" on CBS is a distant third.) Observers (including ad execs) will be watching closing to see if the jump to HD will produce any noteworthy jump in the morning numbers. While GMA had come within mere tens of thousands of viewers of equaling "Today's" numbers several months ago, "Today" has regained some of its edge (a few hundred-thousand viewers) in the first half of 2005.

As usual, only viewers with HD sets will be able to see the HD difference of GMA next fall.