When the new News Corporation network MyNetworkTV launches this fall, the composition of the television landscape will have changed greatly. The network will be picking up many of the affiliates who will lose their network when UPN and The WB merge to form the CW Network but will only be starting with two hours of programming every night, based on two prime-time telenovela series.
But TelevisionWeek points out this week that the other major news for the new network is that it will be the first broadcast network that will provide all of its programming in HDTV form on its Sept. 05 launch.
Of course, considering the network will only have two programs, that's not a major feat, but it does demonstrate potential, as MyNetworkTV will have bragging rights in its initial promotion and will easily be able to add any new programming in HD form. And, as James Hibberd points out, since those two shows are aired nightly instead of weekly, this means a total of 600 hours of HD programming per year that the network has committed to.
Many are surprised by the decision, since telenovelas are generally not the prime candidates for the conversion to HD format. None of their daytime relatives in the soap opera genre have launched high-definition versions, and scores of primetime dramas have not made their programming available in HD as of yet, either.
Further, the standard broadcast will be made available in whta is called letterbox format, meaning that there will be black bars at the top and bottom of the screen.
The network is trying to find its niche while establishing itself, and experimenting with HD content, letterbox style, and telenovelas is plenty of risk that will also give the network a distinctive feel. Of course, if the programming fails, it will be hard to know which experiment caused the failure, since telenovelas and letterbox programming is currently unproven in the broadcast networks.
However, it will make the network's Sept. 05 launch gain more buzz, and the television industry will have its eyes on the fledgling network to see what might develop.