Monday, September 22, 2008

Express News: Spurs Commit To More HD

Jerry Garcia - Express-News

Anyone who has or is going to plunk down their hard-earned money for a digital TV set can count on watching at least 70 percent of the San Antonio Spurs' 82 games in high-definition this season — with 40 HD games on local TV.

Because 17 games will be shown by two broadcasters at the same time, the Spurs actually have 99 telecasts (60 of them in HD) of their 82 games (scroll down for the breakdown of games)

The Spurs schedule was originally announced in early August with the NBA's national TV partners — ABC/ESPN and TNT — picking the games they wanted first with local telecasts assignments to be determined at a later date.

That later date was Sept. 8 when the Spurs quietly put out the rest of the local TV schedule on their web site. The franchise held up the formal announcement to this week — Wednesday to be precise — so HD plans could be finalized among the local TV partners.

The complete TV schedule can be found at the Spurs web site(click here).

Once again, KENS will get 10 games with all scheduled for telecast in high-definition at 1080i. TNT will also show games in the 1080i HD format but they only have five games.

Fox Sports Net Southwest will telecast the largest bulk of Spurs games this season with 31 with their HD plans yet to be announced. KMYS, a MyNetworkTV affiliate on UHF channel 35 — while UHF still exists — has the rights to 30 over-the-air games. All of KMYS' games will be shown in 720p.

ESPN has nine games and ABC gets six games, also in 720p.

The Spurs have produced a handful of games in HD in the past two seasons but committing to HD broadcasts meant a significant financial investment by the Spurs. The team leases the equipment used to produce the telecasts (production trucks, cameras, etc.) that some TV industry estimates claims add at least $7,500 to production costs.

If they produced all 71 local broadcasts in HD, that means the Spurs would have put up nearly $532,500 to beef up local coverage.

KMYS is ready for HD. The station been airing HD content since 2004 and has fully upgraded its' master control room for digital technology, most recently showing three of the Dallas Cowboys preseason games in high-definition in August.

Nationwide, Fox Sports Net has made a commitment to HD content over the past five years starting with 200 HD telecasts in 2004 and doubling it every year since. FSN plans for all of its' 16 owned-and-operated regional networks to air round-the-clock HD starting in the first quarter of 2009.

It makes sense for the Spurs to increase HD game coverage according to sales experts. Even in tough economic times, sales of HDTVs have remained steady, according to NDP Group, which tracks retail sales trends.

Paul Gagnon, NDP's North American TV researcher, told audiences at a Los Angeles conference this week sales of LCD HDTVs are up 25 percent in 2008 with 30 million shipped to the United States — up by 25 percent compared to 2007.

Gagnon said 30 percent of all TVs sold in North America this year will be HD sets. Sales growth has been spurred both by consumers upgrading to digital TVs before the FCC-mandated digital switch in February 2009 and by lower prices.

Gagnon estimated that the average price for a 32-inch LCD TV could drop to as low as $499 by the holiday shopping season.

KMYS could get one more game, for a total of 31, added to its' scheduled. ABC has the Spurs' noon game on Sunday, March 22 at home against Houston tentatively penciled in their scheduled. That game could be picked up by KMYS if ABC decides to drop it.

Nine of the HD games on ESPN will be separately produced by the Spurs for broadcast on KENS, KMYS and FSN Southwest.

Here's the breakdown:

ABC (in HD): 6 games (2 home, 4 away—subject to change)

ESPN (in HD): 9 games (4 home, 5 away)

FSN Southwest (HD games to be announced): 31 games (15 home, 16 away)

NBA TV: 8 games (4 home, 4 away)

KENS (in HD): 10 games (5 home, 5 away)

KMYS (in HD): 30 or 31 games (18/19 home, 12 away—subject to change)

TNT (in HD): 5 games (1 home, 4 away)

The 17 games broadcast by 2 TV partners:

Oct. 29: vs. Phoenix, 7 p.m. (ESPN, KMYS)

Oct. 31: @Portland, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN, KENS)

Nov. 7: vs. Miami, 7 p.m. (ESPN, KMYS)

Nov. 17: @Los Angeles Clippers, 9:30 p.m. (FSN Southwest, NBA TV)

Dec. 2: vs. Detroit, 7:30 p.m. (KMYS, NBA TV)

Dec. 9: @Dallas, 7:30 p.m. (KMYS, NBA TV)

Dec. 17: @New Orleans, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN, KMYS)

Jan. 2: vs. Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m. (FSN Southwest, NBA TV)

Jan. 3: @Miami, 6:30 p.m. (FSN Southwest, NBA TV)

Jan. 14: vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 8 p.m. (ESPN, KENS)

Jan. 27: @Utah, 8 p.m. (FSN Southwest, NBA TV)

Feb. 24: vs. Dallas, 7:30 p.m. (KMYS, NBA TV)

Feb. 27: vs. Cleveland, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN, KENS)

March 1: @Portland, 7 p.m. (ESPN, KMYS)

March 4: @Dallas, 8 p.m. (ESPN, KMYS)

March 20: vs. Boston, 7:30 p.m. (FSN Southwest, NBA TV)

March 29: @New Orleans, 7 p.m. (ESPN, FSN Southwest)

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