ESPN Formatting Changes

ESPN has recently launched and is in the process of rolling out a new state of the art MPEG4 signal distribution. What this means is ESPN will provide the standard definition networks in a letterbox format.

Why is Solarus doing this?
ESPN is changing their signal distribution system. This change requires Solarus to change this signal to letterbox format. This is a requirement set forth by ESPN not Solarus.

What is Letterbox Format?
Letterboxing is a technique used to display widescreen content on a traditional 4x3 screen such as those used by old-style television sets. The technique is very simple — the picture frame is reduced in size until it fits the screen, leaving black bars above and below the picture. This will allow ESPN producers and cameramen/women to capture more of the action and content and it will ultimately create a better experience.

The letterbox format has not been as popular with the general public. The image is certainly smaller, making it more difficult to see on a smaller television.

One of the most common complaints is that people feel they are losing part of the picture with letterboxing. Some viewers feel they are being ripped off when a program doesn't fill their entire screen. Of course this is somewhat ironic, given that the more widely-accepted pan and scan method does lose part of the image. See below images.

What channels will be affected?
Channels affected are ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU.

When will this change take place?
This change will take place June 1, 2011.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact our technical assistance center at 715-421-6085 or 1-888-676-8638 or email us at

Letterbox Format Pan and Scan Method Format customers will see the ESPN channels in