SYRACUSE -- The website and on-air promos said it would happen in February, but the local news product ABC affiliate NewsChannel 9 (WSYR-TV) launched its new high-definition look a few days early, starting with tonight's 6:00pm newscast. The new look includes new graphics, a brand new studio set, a new logo and updated music. Updated 1/30 with photos from the first broadcast.
We've heard through various lines of communication that tonight's debut was intended as a "soft launch" -- it wasn't advertised in advance, save for the station website changing to reflect the new on-air graphics just a few minutes before 6:00.
Saturday's 6pm newscast appeared to go off without a hitch, on-time, with no technical glitches (at least as far as we could see) in the first block. Interestingly, there was not much "special attention" given to the HD launch, aside from the news open including the verbage "now in high definition" and the corner logo bug that says "Now in HD" for a few seconds before transitioning to the new 9 logo. The only acknowledgement of the new set was very brief, near the end of the newscast, with a quick overhead wide shot of the new set.
The station website has been updated with a panoramic photo of the new studio, along with several photos taken during the nearly three-week-long transition between the old 1998 set and the new set.
Some things haven't changed much though -- the Gari "News Station" music package, which has been in place since the mid 90s -- is still in place, with a few minor updates. Weather graphics also remain similar to the previous set, aside from some color scheme updates to match better with the news graphics. (Just one glitch there at the end of the newscast, where a forecast temperature was obscured by the logo bug.)
Although WSYR-TV may appear to be the last station to get with the times, they're actually the first station to truly offer news in HD. Across town, the CNYCentral trio consisting of NBC affiliate WSTM, CBS affiliate WTVH and CW affiliate WSTQ-LP started broadcasting their newscasts in "enhanced widescreen," which may fill a widescreen television, but the picture resolution isn't technically high-definition. On cable, Time Warner Cable's YNN also has an HD channel, but it's usually no different from the SD channel -- other than the graphical "sidebars" next to the picture, similar to what WSYR-TV had been doing during its own newscasts previously.
WSYR's upgrade to HD coincides with a number of newscast talent lineup changes which we reported here previously. Some of those changes have already taken place, and we presume the rest will take effect as of Monday.
We had hinted about the HD launch earlier on Saturday (though we weren't 100% sure if it would really happen or if it might be postponed at the last-minute) on our Facebook page and Twitter feed -- be sure to "like" and/or "follow" us so you can be alerted when new stories are posted, and for "social media exclusives" that don't appear on the main site.
We also took a few photos from the first HD broadcast. Our apologies, these aren't actual screen captures, but photos from the TV screen -- so some of the colors are off a bit.