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Looking to cut down on satellite transit costs, ESPN is converting to all MPEG-4 distribution effective June 30--dropping the four MPEG-2 simulcasts of its HD services to become one of the first programmers to phase out the older compression format altogether.
The sports programmer said 98% of affiliates have signed on for the switchover at this point and expects all of those to be equipped before the June 30 deadline.
Video encoded in MPEG-4 requires roughly half the bandwidth as MPEG-2. But most set-top boxes currently deployed by cable operators are capable of decoding only MPEG-2, which means ESPN's cable affiliates must install receivers that can automatically …