The Weather Channel has announced plans to transform the network to HDTV. In May, construction started on a new studio that is part of a $50 million investment over the next year and a half. The company has announced plans to launch a separate HD channel starting this September.
Initially, the studio content will be in high definition, but over time, the rest of the programming and even field segments will be in HD. The company hopes to have all HD content by mid-2008.
The fact is that time is running out for television programming to have a competitive advantage by being in high definition. As more viewers switch to digital service and upgrade to sets capable of HD resolution images, we will rapidly come to expect the extra resolution. Instead of just being drawn to HD images while channel surfing, we’ll soon come to view standard definition the way we used to react to snowy analog pictures and just click right past them. It’s a big investment to switch to HDTV production, to be sure, but the costs are falling and soon it will be an essential cost of doing broadcast business.