Gigabit audio to run on Ethernet

Cirrus Logic is developing Gigabit Ethernet audio chips, with the aim of sending hundreds of uncompressed audio streams over the wire at the same time. The chips will supercharge the company's existing CobraNet audio networking technology, and enable heavyweight audio users to aggregate as many as 600 or 700 professional-grade sound channels onto a single connection. "The current generation uses 100Mbit/s switched Ethernet, and allows 64 channels in and out of each network node - many facilities now want bigger networks though," said CobraNet marketeer Steve Bassett.

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News source: The Reg

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Because HDMI is for both video/audio, and the audio part is very limited to how many streams it can carry (so is the video for that matter); plus it is expensive.
Ethernet on the other hand has cheap hardware and cheap wiring. Plus more bandwidth for general purpose use.

HDMI supports up to 8 audio channels up to 192 khz and 24 bit resolution. This technology will support 600-700 channels at 192 khz at 32 bit resolution.