Wednesday, January 9, 2008

SPEED Gives An HD Update

Currently, SPEED Channel is in the process of changing over to High Definition. It seems this is the next logical step for the network, which is now in over 70 million homes across the country.

Rick Miner is the executive-in-charge of this project for SPEED. "Over the course of the 2008 season, SPEED will be transitioning all of its event programming over to HD," said Miner. The network will kick-off the HD channel on February 7th with one hundred hours of NASCAR programming from Daytona.

To help sort this situation out, we took a very basic list of questions about this topic to SPEED, and here are the answers.

First of all, no one will lose the channel when SPEED goes to HD. Current SPEED programming on the channel you watch now will continue without interruption.

Right now, SPEED is negotiating with all the big cable companies, called MSO's for Multi-System Operators, to add the SPEED HD Channel. Results of those negotiations will continually be released to the media when each agreement is finalized.

Basically, just like with some other cable networks, two channels of SPEED will show-up on your cable dial when your MSO adds SPEED HD. That will allow those with an HDTV to watch SPEED in that format, and those with SD sets to continue to watch without a problem.

For Home Dish owners, SPEED HD will be carried by DirecTV from the start, and negotiations are on-going with Dish Network. SPEED HD for the satellite viewers will be added to the program line-up and then appear on the channel menu.

To begin with, more than half of SPEED's programs will be offered in HD when the network makes the switch in February. As the year progresses, the percentage will rise until all the offerings are in HD. The emphasis right now is on getting the NASCAR and other race programming over to HD.

As for the cost issue, the individual cable operator makes the decision how to put SPEED HD into the cable package that is offered, and how to price it. This is going to be an issue that The Daly Planet will track through our readers as this roll-out continues.

If your cable company does not offer SPEED HD in February and you want to check the status of the new channel, viewers must call their individual cable company and ask about SPEED HD. Each roll-out will be on a different timetable.

As more details become available, we will continue to answer your questions about the impact of SPEED going HD and the changes you may experience. We discussed the pros and cons of buying an HDTV set in the after Christmas sales in an earlier column, which can be read by clicking here.

This transition really rounds out the HD experience for NASCAR fans, especially since DirecTV's Hot Pass and the NASCAR on Fox and the ESPN Nationwide Series races are already offered in the HD format. Now that SPEED is switching the Craftsman Trucks over, the line-up will be complete.

As we said in our earlier column, it might finally be time to scrape together four hundred dollars and head to WalMart. The Vizio brand of HDTV is a good "starter set" and will get a lot of work on the NASCAR trail this season. Good luck.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below, and follow the easy instructions. There is nothing to join and we do not want your email address. We would just like your opinion about SPEED in HD.

Wednesday Testing Show On SPEED

Readers have been asking for a location where they can post comments about the SPEED testing shows from Daytona. This page is for the Wednesday show which featured the final day of Sprint Cup testing for this week.

Bob Dillner co-hosted the show with John Roberts, as Jeff Hammond was nowhere in sight. He did appear on a pre-produced feature, but was clearly not at the track or involved in Wednesday's program.

So far, viewers have not seen Larry McReynolds, who was advertised as being one of the on-air "talent" for this series. Perhaps, that will change next week.

SPEED has Phil Parsons and Ray Dunlap joining John Roberts for Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series testing as the programs continue. There will be more details released about coverage of the Charlotte Media Tour next week.

SPEED has been great in responding to the issues with the Monday testing program, and have re-framed their camera shot in the studio and widened out their on-track coverage to accommodate a network logo on the upper right of the screen.

In addition, the drivers and crew chiefs have been very up-front and candid with their comments about the first COT testing. On Wednesday's program, Jeff Gordon was the featured interview. SPEED has been allowing the viewers to discover, along with the network announcers, just how different the entire testing procedure is this year.

Please feel free to post your comments about the coverage below, just click on the COMMENTS button and follow the instructions. Thanks for stopping by.