August 23, 2007
WWE Going to HD on The CW?

More news has surfaced regarding the move of professional wrestling to high-definition, something that has interested me and that I've written about here a few times in the past few months.

World Wrestling Entertainment has been among the top rated shows on the three channels that its three brands air: USA Network, the Sci Fi Channel, and The CW Network. The company has been toying with a transfer to high-definition for some time, but this culminated with the decision by the CW Network to move to broadcasting in all HD.

At first, it looked as if wrestling would be left out of the picture. As Richard Lawler writes, the CW announced that all its other shows would be going HD at the launch of the new TV season, aside from its Friday evening wrestling programming.

However, word is circulating now that WWE will make the transition to high-definition in January.

I first wrote about these issues last September, when the WWE announced that it would be taping a show completely in high-definition as an experiment. I wrote then that "this includes hiring a makeup artist that will use airbrushing techniques rather than traditional makeup to better be captures in high-definition, changes in lighting, how the WWE's usual pyro will translate into high-definition sound and picture, and the necessary changes in audio when switching to 5.1 surround sound rather than the current system in standard distribution."

These issues came back up in May, when I wrote about some public debate about whether a significant portion of wrestling fans used HD equipment or not, especially after Bruce Leichtman said something about WWE having "more of a downscale appeal," leading to some counterpoints from the wrestling company.

I wrote about another problem, and one that will be interesting to see play out in the coming months:

Because wrestling is all about protecting the illusion and creating an atmosphere for "the willing suspension of disbelief," there has been some fear that the HD picture would be hard to work around in performance. WWE has already been testing to overcome those problems through new camera angles and a variety of other possibilities, though, so it will be interesting to see WWE continue to develop their strategy regarding HD.