A professional analog videotape format
developed by Sony
which, like most video formats, can be used in the NTSC
, or SECAM standard
It is a 1/2" tape format like VHS or Betamax but, unlike either of those consumer formats, BetacamSP (referred to simply as "Beta" or "BetaSP" among pros) supports the full horizontal resolution of 700 scan lines of the NTSC or PAL/SECAM standards, respectively. BetacamSP supports component video, unlike it's predecessor: U-Matic 3/4".
While BetacamSP has been the standard in professional video applications for approximately 15 years (sharing duties all the while with 3/4"; a comparable format in many ways), it is now largely being supplanted by Digital Betacam, or "DigiBeta".
BetacamSP is still quite common, largely due to the high cost of DigiBeta equipment. It is rarely used for broadcast or mastering these days; that job is often given to the high-end digital tape formats like D1 or D2. It is quite uncommon for high resolution telecine transfers (as in DVD mastering or film conforms for online edits) to be done onto BetacamSP. That job is also usually reserved to D1.