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Up Next On Your HDTV? Could Be MASN

Just about anybody who's bought a high-definition TV wants to know when they'll have more HD programming to watch. And around the Washington area, one of the bigger gaps on the high-def menu can be blamed on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.

MASN has been in business since 2005 and has expanded its schedule from Nationals and Orioles baseball games to include many other local teams (like my Hoyas), but it has yet to break out from standard-definition broadcasts. That, combined with the network's unwillingness to offer anything but vague hints about its HD plans, has annoyed Nats and O's fans alike.

In my Web chat yesterday, however, I got this tip:

MASN, HD: MASN will offer at least 60 games for the Orioles and Nationals in native 1081i HD in 2008.

That's the info we have from MASN. (I'm with a cable operator in the area)

I asked the tipster to get in touch with me afterwards. This fellow--who works for a local cable company but didn't want any names used--forwarded the e-mail MASN had sent to his employer:

MASN is pleased to announce that we will be offering at least 60 Major League Baseball games in 1080i High Definition as part of the MASN service for the 2008 baseball season. The HD schedule will be divided evenly between the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals. We are offering these games and future High Definition games on MASN at no additional charge.

I am attaching an amendment to your affiliation agreement that sets forth the terms and conditions under which MASN is offering these High Definition telecasts. We hope you will take advantage of this offer.

In order to properly prepare for the upcoming season and to ensure that your subscribers receive all of the available High Definition game telecasts, please have an authorized representative sign the amendment in the appropriate space and return it to my attention no later than February 15th, 2008. Naturally if you have any questions or concerns about this amendment or the High Definition games, please do not hesitate to call or e-mail me.

We look forward to another year with you and hope you are as excited about the coming season as we are.

Note that the phrase "at least 60 games" could mean we'd see less than a fifth of Washington and Baltimore's combined games in high-def. For now, we don't have a more exact number: MASN publicist Todd Webster e-mailed to say that the company wasn't ready to break any news.

It's no secret that MASN continues to work with all of our 21 cable and satellite operators on providing some games in HD in 2008. When we have reached agreements with all of the operators and are prepared to make an announcement, we will do so.

Some in the news business would call that a non-denial denial, as nothing in that statement says "it's not true."

Let's leave it at that. Assuming that MASN will soon air high-def broadcasts of some games, what's the next channel you'd like to see upgrade to HD?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  February 8, 2008; 9:16 AM ET
Categories:  Video  
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Fox Soccer Channel HD. That alone would be worth the price of digital cable.

Posted by: SSMD | February 8, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Assuming the truth of the source, why would MASN do only 60 games? If they were doing it for home games, then why would some be high def and some not? Would they swap cameras? Would they switch equipment between the O's and the nats? Still, it should be at least 81 games.

So are they planning on this for road games instead? And 60 games is what they figure the feed from home team will be in HD? In other words, they know that between them the Nats and O's play 60 games against teams who already provide an HD feed to the visiting broadcast team?

Posted by: ah | February 8, 2008 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Weather channel. Actually, I think they already have, but it'd be nice if cox carried it.

Posted by: wiredog | February 8, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

I'm fairly certain I've read where the Kansas City Royals and the Nats/O's are the only teams left to do HD for their broadcasts, and the Royals are implementing it this season. Kudos to MASN for being so behind the ball.

But I'm impressed they're squeezing in an extra line. 1081i? Have to check and see if the TV supports that. ;)

Posted by: Shawn | February 8, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

I recently discovered that Comcast in my area has the SciFi channel and USA network in HD.

I would like to see Turner Classic Movies in HD.

Posted by: Ghak | February 8, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

ah, I think what this means is that the "at least" 30 games for the Nats (the other 30 going to the O's) means that they might not get MASN HD up and running until well after the All Star break.

Way to go the extra mile MASN.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | February 8, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: slimyoung | February 8, 2008 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I'm in the Bay Area & a SJ Sharks fan...our local sports network offers broadcast of almost all the HOME Sharks games in HD but hardly any road games in HD, even when the host teams offer the broadcast in HD to their viewers. Don't know why. There is just no comparison, HD is awesome!

I like to see the Caps HD games too. You guys are lucky to have Ovechkin there, he's fun to watch and he really loves to play the game.

The MASN pending announcement is only a matter of business the MASN representative says, they need the cable/dish operators to sign their agreements before they can go forward and announce this, otherwise it would be a no-go for that particular operator -- resulting in many unhappy fans/subscribers.

As for the # of games, maybe the teams want to see the viewing levels in the local market before they invest in more HD coverage.

As for additional channels in HD, I'd vote for Comedy Central and IFC.

Posted by: Chris | February 8, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I would love to see MASN get their pants sued off. The way they have treated the DC Market is a joke and I will be very happy when Angelos gets rid of the O's.

If MLB can screw up their anti-trust exemption (which is a joke) then the O's would have to sell MASN.

Posted by: Jon | February 8, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I have to second the wish for Fox Soccer Channel HD.

Posted by: Falls Church | February 8, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

While apparently progress is being made on the MASN HD issue (the Os and Nats are the only MLB teams yet to confirm any games in HD) the devil will be in the details (as usual).

Will the cable/sat systems have to make room for a MASN HD Channel for 60 games? If so this could be a major issue for Comcast and Cox whose older Coax system is almost at capicity. However Verizon FiOS (fiber) and DirecTV apparently have the capicity to add it at any time. Or will this be where MASN will just offer an HD feed of the game and thereby potentially limit HD broadcast to the those affaiiliates who can already broadcast in HD (like the deal with DC20 last year). So it may wind up that they'll do 60 games, but depending on your system you may get far less or none at all.

Posted by: HD Nats Fan | February 8, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Frankly, I find it very difficult to watch non-HD fare anymore. I purchased my HDTV last summer and was surprised to realize that MASN did not broadcast in HD. Once I got used to watching HD fare, I just didn't bother with MASN broadcats at all - they remind me of Friday Night local High School AV productions! I hope that MASN and other broadcasters understand that as more and more customers acquire an HDTV set, they will soon lose patience with any non-HD broadcasts, regardless of content.

Posted by: Jim | February 8, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

I'm amused that Arlington thinks that MASN would equally split the game between the O's and Nats.

The low number indicates to me that MASN won't be ready for HD until late-summer..August-ish. It's one thing when an old station is slow to convert, but MASN was new out of the box (well, beside the 1970's production values). They should have had HD right away.

As for the next channel I'd like to see in HD (For reference, I have Comcast in Reston, and we're getting a whole slew of HD channels in March)? Fox Soccer is a good one, but getting overseas HD bandwidth is likely very pricey. NHLHD would be good. FXHD would be good. The sports packages (MLB ExtraInnings, NHL Center Ice, and whatever the NBA calls theirs) in HD would be good. CSN+ in HD is also needed.

I'd also like CSPAN3 in HD.

Posted by: Kim | February 8, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

MASN's current productions - even the stuff they don't produce themselves looks state of the art... if it was 1974! on any TV, and worse on HD sets.

Angelos is lagging far behind the rest of the RSNs here. Recall many Orioles games were in HD on Comcast Sports Net Mid Atlantic.

MASN suits are getting pounded regularly on HDTV forums, here and on their own website.

Posted by: AneglosStinks | February 8, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

I wish DirecTV would have WETA or PBS in HD, but it does not seem to be there. Is it there and i do not see it?

Posted by: Steve in Rockville | February 8, 2008 9:18 PM | Report abuse

I guess I'm going to be the last guy on the block to get HD. About half of what I watch on DirecTV isn't available in HD so why bother? There are lots of things I can do with $2000.

Posted by: slar | February 10, 2008 9:55 PM | Report abuse

I understand DirecTV is working to get local PBS stations in HD.

As for MASN...well, it seems to me Angelos doesn't own an HD set and is wondering what all the fuss is...just like his comments several years ago, something like "There's no real baseball fans in DC." Good gawd, the KC Royals are now in HD, yet the MASN crowd slogs along in SD. People, it's 2008 out here.

And why wait for an agreement with all the MASN carriers? Didn't stop them from going to DirecTV in the first place...maybe it was part of the agreement with Comcast, Cox, etc?

Posted by: J in Annandale | February 11, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

I really hope we don't have to wait all season to see the Nats new ball park in HD. Step it up MASN!

As for the next HD channel ESPNU HD!! Come on already ;)

Posted by: John from Orlando | February 14, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: levitra | February 17, 2008 3:52 AM | Report abuse

Big surprise Angeloser is the last one to in on HD. However, QVC in HD needs to happen!

Posted by: Charles | February 23, 2008 3:21 PM | Report abuse

FSC HD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Andrew | February 26, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: staytomlandj | April 3, 2008 7:48 PM | Report abuse

spent days I'd hoped a pair pirates front yard snapping turtles the forests I'd surprise beech log.

Posted by: googleland | April 4, 2008 12:13 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: scuko | April 12, 2008 8:53 AM | Report abuse

I read that Montgomery County has MASN HD on 226 shared by MOJO ?? True ??

Posted by: MASN HD | April 14, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

The B-more Sun shows MASN HD for the Yankees series coming up. We'll see ...

April 18: New York Yankees -- 7:05 p.m., MASN 2 HD
April 19: New York Yankees -- 7:05 p.m., MASN HD/WJZ
April 20: New York Yankees -- 1:35 p.m., MASN HD/WJZ

Posted by: Baltimore MASN HD | April 14, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I'm watching on Verizon Fios, MASN "HD" channel 1 and I'm not seeing it in HD. It says MASN "HD", but is not an HD feed. Possible I'm on the wrong channel, but appears to just be a regular broadcast with the letters "HD" in the corner.

Posted by: MW99 | April 19, 2008 7:30 PM | Report abuse

FiOS does NOT carry MASN-HD and will not commit to when they will (if ever). Their VOD selections are even worst.

Posted by: New FiOS Customer | April 22, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

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