Will 3-D TV Cause Sports Fans to Stop Attending Games?
by Gus Jarvis
Jan 06, 2010 | 1045 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Last Sunday was the most disappointing Sunday I can remember in Rocky Mountain sports. The Denver Broncos were a terrible disappointment. Typical Broncos football, where they ruined their playoffs chances by losing to a terrible team, playing down to Kansas City.

Directly after that game the Denver Nuggets decided to let go of a healthy first-half lead to the 76ers to eventually lose a heartbreaker.

A hearty group of friends and I were among the hearty souls who endured both losses from the stands. We braved the dreary Denver weather to see the 2 p.m. Broncos kickoff. Then we moved into the warm confines of the Pepsi Center for the 6 p.m. Nuggets tip off.

Like many Western Slope residents, I don’t get to attend many games in Denver. The drive is a killer, especially in January when anything can happen. And Monday morning comes around very quickly. Moreover, the ticket price aside, the games cost an arm and a leg – especially if you have to buy $7 beers to cry into.

While I enjoyed attending the games last weekend and can’t wait to see more, I gained a new understanding of why some NFL games are being blacked-out in weak markets. It’s simple: When you compare the cost of attending games in person versus buying an HD television to watch games at home, the HD TV route is so, so much cheaper. And with the quality of the HD screens, you get a better view of the action anyway.

I get staying home. No parking fees. No small seats. No frigid temperatures. And no overpriced 3.2 beer.

All of this became a reality on Monday night as I settled down in front of my TV to watch one of the best Fiesta Bowls I can remember with Boise State beating TCU 17-10. The action was crystal clear on the TV and I sipped a beer from a 12-pack that cost as much as two beers at the game.

Of course, as soon as I think I have the perfect HDTV/surround-sound set up, out comes something better.

Today ESPN announced they will be showcasing a minimum of 85 sporting events in 3-D for a full year starting in June with the first FIFA World Cup match that pits South Africa versus Mexico. Other games to be shown in 3-D will include the 2011 BCS National Championship Game, college basketball games, football games, and the Summer X Games.

Apparently, ESPN has been working on and testing ESPN 3D for more than two years and this past season screened the USC-Ohio State football game in 3-D at select theaters across the country.

USA Today reported that most 3-D viewers were impressed with the images, although some claimed the quick camera changes were hard on their eyes. As with any new technology, such advances require compatible electronics. Viewers will need a 3-D capable TV and special 3-D glasses. (3-D TVs are being featured this week at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show.)

For ESPN, broadcasting in 3-D will also come at a cost. According to the report, locations where cameras are placed to capture regular HD events don’t translate to a 3-D broadcast. If simultaneously broadcasting in HD and 3-D, ESPN will need to have two production crews and different announcers.

I vaguely remember when I first heard about HD broadcasting a few years back. At the time it didn’t seem like such a great, fantastic advancement. Yet here I am today, tethered to my HDTV on Friday and Saturday nights watching just about anything that comes on in HD, including NBA basketball, which is something I would never watch until HD came along.

With that said, I am not very excited about ESPN 3-D…yet. When it is made available and I can somehow afford it, I’m sure I’ll have good time with that one. When most Americans have embraced that technology, it will beg the question: Why even go to the game? To feel like we’re right there, all we’ll have to do is put on some silly glasses.

Is that what it will take for professional sports organizations to make attending a game affordable? I am guessing not, but hey, here’s to hoping.
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