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Why Isn't Setanta Sports Available In Widescreen Format?

 Why Isn't Setanta Sports Available In Widescreen Format?Ever wonder why Setanta Sports doesn’t offer a 16×9 widescreen format of its channel for viewers in the United States? EPL Talk Reader Martin Day had that question. Here’s what he wrote:

Setanta Sports has gone to a 16:9 widescreen format thereby making the highlights near impossible to watch as they compress/crop it to 4:3 here – I know they also transmit the games in the UK & Eire in 16:9 format – and crop for the US. Can you get in touch with someone at Setanta Sports to see if we can get an official word on broadcasting 16:9 here? Surely we’re at the point where most TVs are 16:9 now – especially in pubs etc.

Here’s the response from Setanta Sports:

There’s no such broadcasting format in the USA as 16:9 Standard Definition. All USA Standard Definition broadcasting must be in 4:3. It cannot be 16:9.

The only broadcast format in the USA that can be 16:9 is High Definition. So we have two choices in the USA/CAN:

Standard Definition 4:3 (what we are currently doing) OR High Definition 16:9. Naturally only 2-5% of our programming is even available in HD and our channel is SD so HD is a ways off.

Setanta Sports added that they’re having some issues with Setanta Sports News as they change formats but it should be sorted soon.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013. View all posts by Christopher Harris →
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11 Responses to Why Isn't Setanta Sports Available In Widescreen Format?

  1. DaveMo says:

    What about transmitting the widescreen standard def programming in letterbox (like some US tv shows do – such as E.R. and The Sopranos, iirc). It might take someone at Setanta flipping another switch at times, but it would sure beat the crappy way their signal is coming across now – the highlight reels often show the goal mouth with the ball going in, but not who's shot the ball; my son and I were wondering why their World Cup Qualifer, Group Tables showed “number of games played” and “goals for”, but not “points earned” – - that is, until we realized the rightmost column(s) were getting cut off the screen.

  2. Jesse says:

    Lots of shows are letterboxed, including just about everything on the discovery channels. No reason why Setanta can't do the same for their broadcasts here.

  3. Martin says:

    I’m fairly sure that ESPN used a16X9 Standard Def feed for
    both Wimbleton and the French Open Tennis last year. I know
    they were HD this year, but last year they just re-broadcasted
    the BBC 16×9 feed.

    Aw well – looks like it’s not going to happen.

  4. eplnfl says:

    I would just be happy if it was on Comcast in any size!

  5. Panda says:

    Another thing they could is to show the game squished. While it's not appeasing to the eye, cramming a 16×9 image into a 4×3 would probably be their best bet. For users who have a 4×3 screen, it would look weird but they would get the entire image. Also, most likely, a good portion of the country (and the Setanta subscribers) own 16×9 televisions which has the option of unstretching the image and show it in its proper aspect ratio.

  6. Greg says:

    And the answer from Setanta that 16:9 standard definition tv doesn't exist in North America is just wrong.

    Deutsche Welle (German News) is broadcast on digital cable in Canada as an SD digital channel that is 16:9 (Rogers Digital Cable – Channel 195 in Toronto). All of the set top boxes automatically display the channel full screen on an HDTV and letterbox it for older 4:3 sets.

    I've already sent Setanta a note about this since their Setanta Sports News is an absolute joke considering much of the graphics and even one of the presenters often aren't visible!!

    And if this isn't possible, I agree with posters above… just letterbox the 4:3 signal and that way everyone misses nothing and those with HDTVs can just zoom in.

  7. Martin says:

    Well I am glad that I am not the only person that hates the way Setanta is cropping a 16:9 image and losing half the picture. The news is a joke with one presenter missing. I've also noticed that on a few occasions EPL games have started with a 16:9 image squashed into a 4:3 picture, so I switch my HDTV to stretch mode and we have widescreen for a few minutes until someone at Setanta catches on and switches the signal so its cropped again. I was recently in the UK watching games on SD tv sets but in widescreen so I dont know why they cannot do that here.

  8. Brian says:

    It is not only Setanta but other channels like Fox's football (soccer) channel. There is no reason they can not display the whole picture (16:9) and simply use the letterbox format. This is very common practice throughout Europe. It is inexcusable to say that we are just a SD broadcast station and can do nothing about it. There are times during EVERY game where one just simply misses the action or we hear the commentators discuss something that is simply cut off in the 4:3 picture. Now if they could just get rid of those stupid on-screen station I.D. monograms!

  9. John says:

    'Here’s the response from Setanta Sports:
    There’s no such broadcasting format in the USA as 16:9 Standard Definition. All USA Standard Definition broadcasting must be in 4:3. It cannot be 16:9.'

    That statement is incorrect.
    NBC for example have done it for years. Regular TV shows, and Wimbledon tennis (which only went HD in 2008).

    Show it with the black bars.

  10. Carefree in L.A. says:

    Its in HD and 16×9 at Barneys Beanery in West Hollywood….how are they getting that?

  11. DaveMo says:

    I'm watching Setanta Sports News right now (the 5:00 PM program), and they are broadcasting the entire signal “squished” – touch one button on the widescreen TV (“stretch'), and you get a beautiful 16:9 picture. I'm not sure if it's just certain news programs, but I have noticed several times recently that Setanta is broadcasting like this. Not matches (yet), but one can hope.

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