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Commentary
Fox: Playing Games w/Baseball's HD Pix
By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (October 21, 2010) -- Cablevision viewers, do you have a high-def set? If so, you may think you're missing Fox's HD coverage of this week's NL Championship Series between the Phillies and Giants.

(Fox has blacked out its local channels on Cablevision because the two companies haven't been able to reach a new programming pact.)

But here's the reality: You're not missing Fox's HD game coverage. Why? Because it's not in HD, damn it.

That's right. I'm not sure what Fox is putting on the air this week, but it's definitely not a high-def picture. I have two TV providers (DIRECTV and Comcast) and three televisions, including a state-of-the-art $22,000 Home Theater system, and I can assure you that the picture is not HD.

The Fox picture has been a muddy mess, lacking the detail and clarity that you usually expect from a high-def broadcast. The network's centerfield camera is the worst culprit, often displaying a picture that looks like it has been filtered with a Brillo pad. It's just terrible; in fact, some standard-definition broadcasts offer more precision and detail.

In contrast, the TBS broadcast of the AL Championship Series between the Yankees and Rangers has been crystal-clear HD with vivid, eye-popping color. Going from TBS to Fox this week has been like going from day to night.

Now before you say I'm seeing things. Fox has actually said during each broadcast that the games are being presented in a "widescreen" format. (The network even referred baseball viewers to foxsports.com/widescreen for more information.)

What is a "widescreen" format? Once upon a time when Fox did not broadcast NFL games in high-def, it upconverted the SD picture so it would fit the entire widescreen of a high-def set. The picture would be slightly improved, but it would fall far short of an HD image. Fox called the picture "digital widescreen."

I suspect that for some reason -- perhaps costs, perhaps a lack of available HD cameras during the NFL season -- that Fox is trying to slip a "digital widescreen" picture past its viewers this week.

But the scary thing is that Fox has the exclusive rights to carry next week's World Series.

Let's hope that the network brings their high-def cameras then.

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Phillip Swann is president and publisher of TVPredictions.com. He has been quoted in dozens of publications and broadcast outlets, including CNN, Fox News, Inside Edition, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Financial Times, The Associated Press and The Hollywood Reporter. He can be reached at swann@tvpredictions.com or at 703-505-3064.

Click TVPredictions.com to read more news and features on TV technology. 

 
 
 
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