YES Network gives HD Yankee fans a spring training treat via Game Creek Eagle

By Carl Lindemann

The YES Network, cable TV home of the New York Yankees, is having a spring training of its own, giving production crews a chance to work in HD for all spring training games, a unique offering that spares HD viewers at home from blurry SD spring training games. “Eventually, we want to do everything in HD, and the natural migration now is to do spring training,” says Ed Delaney, VP Operations, YES Network.

Managing HD production for 11 spring training games means drawing on additional HD resources at a time when HD resrources can be scarce. During the regular season Game Creek’s Yankee Clipper handles the YES Yankee games but in the spring it’s at work covering YES’ regular season Nets basketball games. So Game Creek’s Eagle is tacking the task providing a six-camera setup, down from the 16 used in the regular season. Audio, as in the regular season, is produced in a full Dolby 5.1 surround mix. Pushing back the HD frontier also adds one extra task over the regular season venues: “We have to cable the stadium,” says Delaney.

One of the drivers pushing YES forward is making full use of a relatively new HD production facility in Stamford, CT. Spring training in HD takes place alongside a package of new HD programming. The RSN’s new studios already produce all Yankee and Nets pre- and post-game shows in HD. Upcoming HD additions include the “Yankees on Deck” series targeted to teens that will be available in HD for the first time this season.

“SportsLife, NYC,” a new anthology show, and the weekly “Joe Girardi Show” will also be produced in HD and will premier in April.

While other RSNs share the commitment to HD, producing spring training in HD will only come in time.

“We do every regular season game in HD, and have done so for three years. We’ll do spring training in a few years,” says Michael Narracci, senior coordinating director, Red Sox Baseball, New England Sports Network.

At Fox Sports Net, the key issue is allocating HD production where it will reach the most eyeballs. “We focus our resources on televising regular season games in HD, where we can bring the most value to our viewers, team partners, and distributors,” says Christopher Bellitti, Fox Sports Net spokesman. Bellitti noted that FSN now produces some 1,400 events in HD annually.

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