It has yet to be seen whether 3D TV will catch on with the masses. Who really wants to wear those ridiculous-looking glasses while watching the tube?Baseball fans, apparently.
Just check out the overwhelmingly positive reviews of the first ever 3D Major League Baseball telecasts that were broadcast recently, starting with a pair of Yankees-Mariners games in Seattle on July 10 and 11, followed by July 13’s All-Star Game in Anaheim, Calif. (All three games were co-produced by DirecTV, the broadcast satellite service.)
“Everybody was very surprised at how really cool baseball looked in 3D,” Jerry Steinberg, senior VP of field operations for Fox Sports, which co-produced the telecasts, told Broadcasting & Cable. “It was amazing.”
“I have seen the future of televised baseball,” gushed Newsday’s Neil Best, “and it looked a little intimidating, frankly, what with both the ball and 6-7, 290-pound CC Sabathia moving in my direction in glorious 3-D. “
ESPN recently announced it would debut its own 3D network on June 11, 2011. And other major sporting events, like the Masters and World Cup, have experimented with 3D broadcasts this year.
Baseball, with its well-spaced players, slow pace, and easy to follow action, seems like it might be the ideal sport for the technology.
So why would a company like DirecTV get involved if not many people are watching 3D telecasts?
Two reasons, according to Steven Roberts, head of the 3D initiative at DirecTV: The company feels that it has a responsibility to its customers who’ve already invested in 3D TV sets. But also, he said, getting in the 3D game early could help DirecTV’s popularity in the same way its early adoption of HD television did.
“We started subsidizing HD production in 1997,” Roberts said, “but it wasn’t until 2007 that we said we were going to have 100 HD channels. By driving the market and saying the content was going to be there, that drove the overall industry in terms of its commitment to HD.”
As for the recent 3D baseball telecasts, Roberts said that even though they were only seen by “thousands” of people for the Yankees-Mariners games, and “a few tens of thousands” for the All Star game (to put it in perspective, 12.1 million viewers watched the All Star game on regular TV), the general reaction was “nothing short of spectacular.”
Which it should be given the amount of work that goes into these things. They require a completely separate shoot, with unique cameras in nontraditional locations, and a separate director, producer, and production crew. The Yankees-Mariners broadcast alone used six 3D cameras in addition to the dozen or so used for a normal production, Roberts said. That’s a substantial outlay for a relatively small audience.
But Roberts thinks it’s worth it for all sports.
“3D has provided the director and the producer a new tool to tell the story of what’s going on in the field or on the ice or in the stadium,” he said, “and the more that we utilise the tools, the more we’ll be able to tell those stories in a way that’s never been done before.”
So maybe America’s favourite past time will help 3D TV go mainstream. In the meantime, if only they could could do something about those silly glasses…