YES Network flips switch on new HD era; taps Snell & Wilcox Kahuna, Sony Super Slo-Mo

By Ken Kerschbaumer

Today marks the beginning of a new season for the New York Yankees and a new era for the YES Network, their broadcast TV home as the network officially flipped the switch on 24/7 HD operations for all of its viewers. “We’ll do a minimum of 8 hours of HD content every day,” says Ed Delaney, YES Network VP, operations. “Every game will be in HD, anything from the studio will be in HD, and anything from the pre- and post-game shows, plus batting practice shows will be in HD.”

The new expanded HD offering also required a larger studio (the new one is 3,500 sq. ft.) and a new 2,500 sq. ft. control room. Sony HDC-1500 cameras with Canon lenses (a jib camera has a smaller wide-angle lens), Chyron HyperX HD graphics units, an NVision 128×128 routing switcher and a Snell & Wilcox Kahuna HD production switcher with four mix effects are at the core of the improved programming.

“The ability to do up and down conversion without external processing gear is a really great benefit of using the Kahuna,” says Delaney.

A monitor wall with three Barco rear projection units tied into a Miranda Kaleido multiplexing unit is also on hand. It gives the YES Network flexibility to resize monitors on the fly so that 18 channels (three six-channel units) of EVS servers are always easily within view. Sony SR5000 HD decks and HDCAM units are on hand for archived material playback.

The biggest operational change is the move to a single HD master control room. “We used to have the HD and SD control rooms side-by-side with sliding glass doors because we would only need to go live from the HD master control area during games,” says Delaney. “So now we have only the one room and we downconvert for the SD signal.” A Harris Opus master control unit is the switcher of choice.

With the help of HTN, says Delaney, the network was also able to jump from doing 80% of Yankee games in HD to 100%. “HTN sends a pair of redundant Tandberg encoders on the road,” he says. “We bit the bullet and hired a local tech manager for road games to Shepard the transmission needs because truck engineers want nothing to do with it.”

In terms of production changes the biggest is the addition of Sony HD Super Slow-Motion for all Yankee telecasts. In the past it would be used for games against the Boston Red Sox or the New York Mets.

Of course, the games are only part of the typical regional sports programming lineup. Helping add a nice chunk of HD to the lineup will be the conversion of a TV simulcast of the WFAN-AM radio program “Mike and the Mad Dog” to HD. Small Sony HCX300 cameras with Canon 16×9 lenses (and modified by Telemetrics) are sent over four Tandberg encoders from the radio studio in Queens to the YES production facility in Stamford, CT.