Thomson Inks $15.4 Million Deal With ESPN

Thomson and ESPN made a $15.4 million deal that puts Grass Valley broadcast equipment in the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network's HD production facility in Bristol, Conn. Using Thomson switchers, cameras, routing and control systems and modular equipment, the 12, 000-square foot ESPN Digital Center will supply programming for the ESPN HD channel.

For its production control rooms, the network purchased several Grass Valley Kalypso HD video production switchers to handle multi-camera shows. The facility's three main studios will be outfitted with LDK 6000 mkII HD cameras, operating in 1080i and 720p resolutions and in 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratio modes, for shooting ESPN programs in widescreen. To support its signal distribution paths, ESPN ordered several hundred Kameleon 16-channel output distribution amplifier modules to route digital and video signals to the facility router and throughout the building.

Other purchased equipment includes Trinix large-scale video routing switchers and Apex audio routers. The ESPN Digital Center's signal routing system will combine the Trinix switchers configured as a 1024x512 matrix for HD video signals and the Apex router system with a 1500x800 matrix to handle incoming audio sources and convert them to multi-channel AES digital audio files.

ESPN plans to add several studio shows to its lineup once the facility is operational in 2004.