Padre Games Cross Border; 4SD Embraces MPEG-4

By Ken Kerschbaumer

Producing all San Diego Padres games in HD is nothing new for Channel 4 San Diego (4SD). The cable network has produced all broadcasts in high-definition since 2007. So this year, the big news is a move to Tandberg MPEG-4 encoders and decoders, a move that will save transmission costs without compromising quality.

“We were using PathOne technology and equipment from Evertz, but they stopped making the equipment we used, so we’ve gone with Tandberg,” says Dennis Morgigno, 4SD director of original programming. “We expect to see some savings for our Vyvx service.”

This year, 4SD will deliver 140 regular-season games in HD to viewers after a spring training highlighted by 5 HD broadcasts. Morgigno is also hopeful of a ratings gain, because 4SD will finally be carried on Time Warner Cable systems in Yuma, El Centro, Palm Springs, and Desert Palm, CA, and on Cablemas, a cable company in Tijuana, Mexico.

4SD produces a large number of its games using its own HD-production unit that hit the road in 2004. “It’s holding up great,” says Morgigno. “Because HD is almost all IT- and software-based, we’re constantly doing upgrades like adding EVS servers or cameras.”

Morgigno says owning the truck for the past five years has allowed the network to save costs. “It also allows us to control our own destiny and amortize the cost,” he explains. “We can also get revenue from renting it in the off-season.”

The station’s contract with the Padres ends after the 2011 season. Will that spur a move to renting HD production units rather than owning? Not likely, says Morgigno: “We may even build a new one.”

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