World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has embarked on a slow, steady path to prepare for the eventuality of HDTV production and distribution of its content.
Each week, the WWE produces nine hours of original programming for domestic broadcast. From that, 40 hours of programming for international distribution is created. In addition, WWE produces assorted specials and home videos and is rolling out a video on demand network.
While there are no plans to start producing weekly programming in HD in the near future, WWE must prepare for the day when it will come, according to Marty Ludwin, WWE senior director of engineering.
Since 2001, when the organization began its transition from analog to digital, HD has been in the back of Ludwin’s mind. All new equipment, beginning with Thomson Grass Valley Venus and Trinity routers through to cabling and jackfields, were selected with the idea that one-day HD production would be required.
Along the way, the WWE has added HD capability in the form of Apple’s Final Cut Pro HD and most recently upgraded an existing Snell & Wilcox Alchemist Platinum Ph.C for high definition and added an S&W Ukon for up-, down- and cross-conversion.
The added HD production capability is allowing WWE production personnel to get their collective toes wet producing some HD content for promotional purposes, according to Ludwin.
However, the day will one day come when HD will dominate WWE’s weekly program offerings. According to Ludwin, the WWE has not settled on an HD production format, although he acknowledges that “HDCAM and DVCPRO HD (are) starting to roll through our facility.”
As for distribution, WWE is committed to providing content to many broadcast partners in the HD standard and tape format they require.
Whatever formats and standards are ultimately required take a backseat to WWE’s main mission, improving what fan’s experience.