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Scott D. Pierce: Utah, BYU football: Big game in HD on The mtn.

Published: Friday, Nov. 21 2008 12:31 a.m. MST

Just in time for the BYU-at-Utah football game, The mtn. will telecast in high definition for the first time.

Those of you who have HD sets know what a big deal this is. It's huge. Sort of night-and-day different from standard definition.

And, let me assure you, trying to watch a standard-definition telecast on a high-definition set is sort of like having eyeglasses that are somewhat off from your regular prescription. A couple of weeks ago, I turned to The mtn. to check a score of a Mountain West Conference football game and I literally could not read the graphic with the score. (Is that a 38 or 30? Who knows?)

Of course, not everyone who gets The mtn. is going to get it in HD. It depends on what cable company provides your service. Some will have the upgrade; some will not.

(And if you don't have an HD set, the game will still be there on the same ol' channel in SD.)

If you subscribe to DirecTV (and you have a package that includes The mtn.), you're all set. The mtn. HD will be on channel 616-1 (as opposed to the SD channel on 616). And you've got to either punch in 616-1 or scroll to it on the guide — it won't automatically switch for you.

HD programming on DirecTV doesn't begin until 11 a.m. Mountain Time on Saturday, however. You'll get a logo on the screen until then.

Saturday's HD lineup includes the MWC football preview show at 11 a.m.; Colorado State-at-Wyoming at noon; another studio show that will follow that game; BYU-at-Utah at 4 p.m.; and a post-game show following the Utes and the Cougars.

And all of that HD programming may not be on all cable systems. As of this writing, Utah's biggest cable company — Comcast — is only planning to air the (approximately) 3 p.m. studio show and the Utah-BYU game in HD (although that may change).

As is the case with a number of cable systems, The mtn. will only be available to Comcast subscribers who have digital cable — it will be on Ch. 664.

(Out-of-state Comcast subscribers remain pretty much out of luck. Despite the fact that Comcast is a co-owner of The mtn., the channel is not available to most of its customers around the country.)

Other Utah cable systems that will carry The mtn. in high definition include:

All West Communications — Ch. 590

Baja Broadband — Ch. 131

Broadweave Networks — Ch. 932

Spanish Fork Community Network — Ch. 664

Sweetwater Cable Television — Ch. 55

Other systems may still sign on for the HD telecast before kickoff. You can go online to www.themtn.tv to check for updates.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE 55 years makes.

In 1953, the BYU-at-Utah game was telecast nationwide on NBC — one of the earliest such broadcasts. Although audience measurement was in its infancy, it was estimated that 60 million people watched the Utes and Cougars play on Thanksgiving Day.

NBC pulled out all the stops, mounting cameras atop the U.'s press box to capture "panoramic views" of Salt Lake City. (In black-and-white, of course.) And the network brought in big-time announcers — Mel Allen on play-by-play and Lindsey Nelson doing color.

This year's game will not, of course, reach anywhere near 60 million people on The mtn. But we can at least hope it will be as exciting as the 1953 matchup, in which the 8-2 Utes beat the 2-7-1 Cougars 33-32 ... because BYU muffed an extra-point attempt.


E-mail: pierce@desnews.com

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