FSN to offer 65 Twins games in high definition

  • Article by: JUDD ZULGAD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 13, 2008 - 8:06 PM

By 2009 the network expects to broadcast all of its Twins coverage in the superior format.

A busy week in the world of broadcast sports, so let's get right to it:

One of the most frequent inquiries that lands in the e-mail in-box has centered on when FSN North will begin to air more games in high definition. There is good news on that front.

The network announced Thursday that it is planning to carry 65 Twins games in high def this season -- an increase from 43 last year and only 17 in 2006. This means 56 percent of FSN's 116 Twins telecasts will be shown in the far superior format.

"That's where this business is going," said Mike Dimond, senior vice president and general manager of FSN North. "They all will be in HD eventually, and certainly we're trying to grow it as much as we can every year. The goal is by the 2009 season that all [Twins games] will be in HD. That's what we're working toward."

Dimond also is hoping to increase the number of Wild and Timberwolves HD telecasts in 2008-2009. Both teams will have 10 games in the format on FSN this season. Dimond said there are a few factors when considering how many games can be produced this way.

Issues include the higher cost of doing games in high def ("It costs more to telecast in HD, but there isn't more revenue associated with it," Dimond said), the amount of bandwidth that is available among the various FSN regional sports networks and the number of production trucks that are equipped to handle HD.

The first high-def Twins game will be April 1 against the Los Angeles Angels and will be one of 12 such telecasts in April. Check www.myspace.com/fsnnorth for FSN's most-up-to date schedules. FSN also will produce the 27 Twins telecasts that will be carried on WFTC (Ch. 29) this season, but none of those will be in HD.

• Former big-league pitcher and current ESPN baseball analyst Rick Sutcliffe has been diagnosed with a "curable form of colon cancer," according to the network. Sutcliffe will have surgery and undergo chemotherapy in the coming months and is hoping to return later this year.

• The Twins' plan to have backup catcher Mike Redmond do a half-inning of analysis from the dugout once a week on their radio broadcasts will be discussed in the coming days by team officials. Manager Ron Gardenhire has expressed concern about the idea.

"The last thing we want to do is have any negative at all come out of this," said Andy Price, Twins director of broadcasting. "I was hoping this would be a very harmless, positive thing and still believe that it can be that. But with some of the negative tone we will have internal discussions."

Redmond has provided analysis on two spring-training games and is scheduled to do so again early next week. A decision about whether to go forward will be made before the next game Redmond is scheduled to work. Speaking of Gardenhire, his manager's show will return at 9:30 a.m. Sunday on KSTP Radio (1500 AM).

• Marney Gellner, who serves as a host and reporter for FSN North, begins her maternity leave today after working the Wild-New Jersey game on Thursday night. Gellner, who is due to give birth next week, is expected to return to FSN around June 1. Among those filling in will be Marquette grad Trenni Kusnierek, whose primary responsibilities are with FSN Wisconsin. Kusnierek had been at FSN Pittsburgh before returning to the Midwest.

• Wild radio voice Bob Kurtz, who has worked on St. Paul Saints television and radio home broadcasts in recent seasons, has decided not to return to the American Association team this summer.

• While the Big Ten Network and Comcast close in on a deal that is expected to put the network on the cable company's expanded basic tier, Charter and Mediacom continue talks with BTN but remain far apart.

• NFL Films has laid off 21 of its 283 employees, according to the Philadelphia Daily News. Steve Sabol, who is president of the NFL-owned property, told the newspaper that HBO's decision not to renew "Inside the NFL" was a big factor in the decision.

• The Timberwolves' Al Jefferson will be featured on "NBA Access with Ahmad Rashad" at noon Saturday on ABC (Ch. 5).

• Greg Gumbel, Clark Kellogg and Seth Davis will host the NCAA men's basketball selection show at 5 p.m. Sunday on CBS (Ch. 4). ESPN will have the women's selection program at 6 p.m. Monday.

• The Wild-Kings game at 7 p.m. Saturday won't be televised by FSN or KSTC, but it will be available in high definition to those who subscribe to HDNet.

Judd Zulgad • jzulgad@startribune.com

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