By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network yesterday announced plans to carry 80 games of the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles in high definition, a step that means all 30 major league teams will have at least some of their games broadcast regionally in HD.
The HD telecasts of Nationals and Orioles games will be split evenly between the two teams and will include all six games between the two clubs. The first MASN HD broadcast of a Nationals game will be April 7 against Florida, though the team's season opener March 30 against Atlanta -- the game that will christen Nationals Park -- will be carried in HD by ESPN. A full HD schedule for MASN will likely be announced later this week, network spokesman Todd Webster said.
MASN has reached agreements with its major cable and satellite providers -- including Comcast, the largest carrier in the region -- to broadcast the games in HD, according to Webster. The network will not have a dedicated HD channel, but will appear in a provider's HD tier when a high-definition game is on. MASN plans to have a complete listing for all its affiliates on its Web site -- masnsports.com -- before Opening Day.
Last season, the Nationals, Orioles and Kansas City Royals were the only teams that didn't have any games broadcast locally in HD, a digital broadcast system that has a greater resolution -- and thus, far superior picture quality -- and is currently in roughly 14 percent of American homes with televisions, according to a survey by research giant Nielsen. The Royals announced plans to carry some games in HD last October.
Webster said nearly half of the Nationals games in HD will be on the road, meaning season ticket holders -- who attend most home games -- will also have the chance to see the higher-quality broadcasts. MASN is also planning to announce as soon as late this week a schedule of Nationals and Orioles spring training games that will be televised.