NEW YORK Telemundo, the NBC Universal-owned Spanish-language network, will start broadcasting in high-definition beginning in April.
Telemundo said it would be the first Spanish-language network to offer HD content both at the local and network levels. (A rep for competing Spanish-language network Univision did not immediately return a call inquiring about its HD plans).
Telemundo said its first Spanish-language broadcast would be the 2009 Billboard Latin Music Awards on April 23, 2009, after which the network will gradually roll out its HD broadcast offerings for prime-time novelas, sports broadcasts and specials.
"Telemundo ... is raising the bar in Spanish-language television," said network president Don Browne. The move to HD, he said, "will clearly differentiate ourselves to our viewers, distributors and advertising clients. We have been producing many of our novelas in HD for a while and now are excited to be able to broadcast this great content at the highest quality available."
Telemundo will be the first Spanish-language network to broadcast an entire full-length novela in HD with the premiere of "Mas Sabe El Diablo," set for the 2009-10 season. Another upcoming novela, "Doña Barbara," and select sports broadcasts will also be broadcast in HD. The network said it is planning to broadcast its entire prime-time programming in HD in addition to movies and other specials over time.
According to a study conducted in December 2008 by Telemundo's Pulse Research Panel, almost half of the panel members said they own a widescreen HD television.
Nine of Telemundo's owned-and-operated TV stations will initially distribute the network HD signal to their audiences, including stations in Los Angeles, Miami, Las Vegas, Chicago, New York, Dallas, San Francisco, Houston and Puerto Rico. The remaining O&Os will phase in HD signals over the next 12 months.