Eagles Television Network To Go All HD

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With the start of the fall season, the Eagles Television Network will begin producing its entire broadcast and cable fare, about six half hours a week in high-definition.

Final programming lineup for next year hasn’t been finalized but last year, the ETN produced such shows as Eagles Locker Room, Inside the Eagles and The Eagles Kids Club for several outlets, including Comcast SportsNet, Fox Philadelphia and ABC affiliate WPVI-TV, Rob Alberino, vice president of broadcasting at ETN, said in an interview.

The Eagles Television Network was set up in 1997, as a shoestring operation in the mailroom of their old station, but has since grown dramatically, Alberino said. In 2003, it built a new master control and production facility and earlier this year acquired a number of new cameras from Panasonic to begin shooting all content in HD.

Besides the programs ETN produces for local stations and network, Alberino’s team produces all of the shots that are seen on monitors in the stadium. While the games will be shot in HD, the shots seen by fans in the stadium on various monitors will continue to be shown in standard-definition. 

To make the transition to HD, Alberino said the network purchased three Panasonic AJ-HPX3000s, with Canon HJ 22x7.6 HD lenses and W80 HD wide-angle adapters and 20 32GB P2 cards.

“We are traditionally a Sony house and I am a big proponent of Sony equipment,” Alberino said. But the company decided to buy the Panasonic cameras for its HD upgrade after testing cameras from Sony, Panasonic and other vendors.

“The Panasonic was the unanimous choice of the crew” he noted.

ETN continues to use some Sony equipment, however.

Upgrading its master control facility and the stadium’s monitors to HD will be the next phase of its move to HD production but no time table has been set for that changeover. “That will be a much more expensive investment,” he said, noting that it won’t make that move before 2009 at every earliest. “Right now everything looks great” in standard-definition on the stadium’s monitors “so there is no real pressure to make that investment.”

In its 12th season, ETN has won 32 Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards as well as over 50 National Telly Awards.

Alberino said ETN had been thinking about making the transition to HD for five years, ever since it build a new master control facility.

“We put in fiber in anticipation of being able to make the move to HD,” Alberino said. “Our owner Jeffrey Lurie is always said that even though we are regional sports network he wanted us to look like a national producer. [Lurie] had produced films and his wife is an independent filmmaker. So he is really into the production aspect of what we do and a big supporter of going HD.”

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