Thursday, December 4, 2008

73 More Days To Get Your 3-D Glasses

Fox Sports has a problem. In the world of sports TV contracts, Fox must match-up against an opponent that comes to the bargaining table with a major broadcast TV network and two cable TV sports networks in its pocket.

Should ESPN decide to turn the little-used ESPN Classic Network into a full-blown sports channel, that would give the company three national cable TV channels for live events in addition to the ABC Television Network.

When Fox senior executive David Hill looks around, he finds himself without even one cable TV network. Fox decided a while back to invest in the regional sports network business, which leaves Hill with nothing more than the sum total of the Fox local station affiliates and Rupert Murdoch's wallet with which to bargain.

After the recent news that the BCS was migrating to the ESPN/ABC group, Hill was looking for something to make Fox Sports stand-out in this era of new television technology. His solution? February's Daytona 500 shown in theaters in 3-D.

This from Michael Hiestand over at USA Today:

Fox Sports Chairman David Hill says Fox hopes to let theatergoers use 3-D glasses to watch February's NASCAR Daytona 500. Hill says sports in 3-D is "fabulous," and high-def TV "has just been a steppingstone" to get to 3-D.

Even if Fox's 3-D BCS action looks good — remember, this network created the NHL's "glowing puck" in the 1990s — you wonder if many fans will want to wear goofy 3-D glasses. Not to worry, Hill says: "Tommy Hilfiger will make 3-D glasses, and there'll be special 'date' glasses."

The funside of Hill is that he takes risks. He was behind the launch of Hot Pass on DirecTV and originally put together the NASCAR on Fox team that is the most visible and well-known of the NASCAR broadcasters.

An Aussie with a very long and colorful history in the TV business, Hill is Murdoch's right-hand man in American sports TV.

Before you think the 3-D talk is lunacy, take a look (click here) at this video from the guys at Philips. What the television set manufacturers are trying to do is eventually bring 3-D telecasts into the home in the same way that High Definition is cracking into the market.

Once again, this poses the biggest problem for program producers like Hill. Here are his comments on producing sports in 3-D in the future from USA Today:

"It's like that old Who song, Won't Get Fooled Again," Hill says. "Broadcasters had to pay through the nose to launch high def — we're still getting over the financial scars — and didn't get anything back in ratings or ad sales."

So while the BCS on the big screen might serve as an appetizer, he says networks aren't going to underwrite the infrastructure to let millions of couch potatoes see more fully dimensional views of fair catches: "Broadcasters won't do anything until we get everything paid for by the set manufacturers."

Speaking over at Variety, Hill was a bit more blunt in his assessment of the situation:

"I hope the TV industry doesn't get conned again the way we did with HD," Hill said. "And we got conned. It cost us a fortune to go to HD, but do we get a penny more from the advertisers? Do we get an extra rating point? No. Everybody benefited but the broadcasters."

"I can't see us making a move into 3-D until a good fairy comes flapping into my office with a check," he said. "But still, it's sitting there, we know it's going to work, and some day someone is going to do something."

In the meantime, you may be sitting in your local theater wearing the blue and red glasses while the COT crowd battles it out in February. There is no real timetable for any or all of this to happen, but one thing is for sure. There are 73 more days until the Daytona 500.

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Bill H said...

Digger in 3d, what a scary thought!

Seriously though, I would like to see a race like this, at least once. Not sure if it would be enjoyable, but it would be an experience. I think it would be more enjoyable for the surround sound and large screen than the 3d effect.

Bill H

boyd said...

He could can that FOX NEWS stuff and have a perfectly good place for a sports cable channel.

Newracefan said...

Maybe for the I wonder what it would be like effect but would never make a habit of it.

boyd said...

Weren't you part of the regional Fox Sports deal?

Also taking over the Fox News channel would give them a spot on the cable side for sports.

Hearing O'Rielly calling the races from the no spin zone has possibilities!

Dot said...

Doesn't FOX have other sports channels? Listed on my upper tier are FSD-A, C and P. If ESPNCL which is on my upper tier can show racing, why can't the FSDs? Or are we talking about basic cable channels? I haven't paid attention to what shows are on these FOX channels, such as reruns or current sporting events, but will now.

OT, not that I understand the BCS (is that correct?), but what I've read it seems it's not working out too well with which team is playing which. Maybe this is a burn on ESPN in the making.

TexasRaceLady said...

I hope FOX isn't depending on me to spend money on 3-D.

Daly Planet Editor said...


I left Prime Network just before it was bought by Fox, moved to LA and re-named Fox Sports Net.


The Fox Cable Networks group has many regional sports networks across the nation that show the local MLB, NBA and NHL teams.

As an additional offering, you are seeing the Fox Atlantic, Central and Pacific digital sport feeds on your cable dial.

Unfortunately, all these regional networks now carry their own programming and cannot contribute to the national sports landscape.

You may remember this summer when Fox had the conflict between baseball and NASCAR. The Fox Sports executives were forced to use the FX entertainment channel to finish the baseball game.

Fox has many times declined to create a national sports cable network in the US.


Anonymous said...

Everything I've ever seen in 3D was cheesy and stupid. Unless they have a fool proof method of actually having things look 3D, I'm not buying it.

Vicky D said...

My nephew was a director on Fox Sports Net in Cleveland for many years I even have a pic of myself on the set. They'll get something worked out I'm sure but now that's something I'll have to do in my spare time look for my 3 D glasses. I think the Daytona 500 in 3D would be interesting too.

Dot said...

Thanks JD. I thought FOX was FOX was FOX. Btw, correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't some rich guy own FOX? I want to say Rupert Murdoch. Can't he buy a couple of channels?

I'm with TRL. I can almost bet that we'll have to buy those "official NASCAR" 3D glasses to watch a race. And, the FOX race glasses won't work for the ESPN races, lol.

Anonymous said...

Didn't anyone go to the theater to see the NASCAR 3-D film (I forget what it was called)? The disappointing thing was not as much in car stuff as you would expect--I think they were afraid of people getting sick--but it was still cool. The opening scene was Jimmie and Ryan as moonshiners, getting caught by 'cops' Mike Helton & John Darby, if I remember right. Funny stuff. Might be a 'unique' thing; I'm not fond of RP racing so it might make Daytona more interesting.

I hate News Corp (con artists)...but I try and separate news from sports...

bevo said...

I'll pass, I really have no desire to watch 10 minutes of racing and 30 minutes of commercials every half hour (yes I know that doesn't add up) in 3-D.

But I do thank him for HotPass, I can't imagine watching a race without it.

red said...

hmmm. well, dunno about the others but i'm part of a "daytona watching party" every year and, since adult beverages are involved in fair quantity, i'm pretty sure that 3D glasses would be a spectacularly bad idea.

anon 11:23: could you be thinking of the nascar IMAX film? the only way to appreciate that was to watch it in an IMAX theater. like you, i wish there had been more actual in-car footage, especially cars up in the high groove, "smelling the paint" against the wall!

seriously, i just want to watch racing. to me, this is yet another gimmick that seems to be an attempt to "add excitement" to a sport that, if broadcast correctly, already has plenty of excitement built in to it. i'm already over it.

Anonymous said...

The first thing I think of is one word - no. No if I'm paying to see something like racing I'll drive to see it, not go to a movie theater & wear glasses.
Broadcasters won't get fooled again, & me either. This is silly.
Better to invest in Speed 2 or better yet make Speed a racing channel, not lifesytles.

Adam T. Martin said...

Gimmmick alert.

Fox is quickly losing credibility.

Anonymous said...

I've seen part of a race in 3D. FOX did some tests a few years back. They went out to Vegas at shot the race. It really is amazing stuff. JJ or Kenseth won the race from what I recall and when the confetti goes off, it's crazy how real it looks coming at you and blowing all over the place. Also the pit stops they had were awesome looking. It will be cool if it ever gets done big time.

Anonymous said...

I sure hope that they don't put the Daytona race in 3-D at the movies only or on those high end cable stations. I'm on a fix income and can't afford this extra money. I sure hope that FOX and ABC/ESPN can work out their broadcast problems. I guess I'll listen to it on radio. May we won't have to worry about where or how we will watch or listen to the races, if there aren't any cars to race.

Ziggy said...

What's next - 15 channel sound ??
IF we gota pay for it, forget it.

Anyway, leave the 3D to Disney.
Whoops, wait a minute, lets not encourage the mouse gang to persue this, picture listening to JP in
3D. yikes !

jab said...

You're kind of misleading people into thinking they have to sit around with the dorky blue/red glasses to watch 3D in a movie theatre. It's digital now, with HDTV and polarized 3D. You do have to wear glasses, but they don't have colors, and things look amazing when they are filmed especially for 3D presentation.

Anonymous said...

Well, why not, ESPN is doing the Raiders Chargers game in 3D next week as a test. The NFL Broadcast Committee made up of several NFL owners will be watching the game.

NBA games have been done too. Mark Cuban was behind that.

With the advent of High Definition it makes the 3D thing easier to pull off.

I wouldn't look for it to be a regular feature for quite sometime if ever.

Dave in Wisc.

Anonymous said...

aw, c'mon jab, the photo was funny...

yes, red, the IMAX film (I forgot to mention that part.) I know a lot of people who can't handle that kind of stuff (makes 'em sick and/or dizzy) but if it were an *option* it might be fun. Presumably it just looks normal without the if people weren't interested, no big deal. Just think it might be fun for a bit....couldn't be worse than the flaming hockey pucks or the sparkly goal...

anon 11:23

Anonymous said...

Mr Daly

How ironic, and how telling, that David Hill complains about broadcasters getting "fooled" by HD, as though it were some sort of devious plot foisted on his network! As I recall, the closing credits of every fox sports telecast touts David Hill as the czar of everything. And it was a few years back that he had control of the entire Fox broadcasting and cable networks, which he promptly ran into the ground by focusing on such high brow fare as rabid animals attacking and police chases.Once the novelty of that junk wore off, there was no other programming in development at Fox, so they tanked in ratings.
As the top executive at Fox, he should have had the accumen to set a strategy for hd ADOPTION. Instead, he did nothing, for which he now seeks to blame equipment and electronics manufactureres. Mr Hill contuniues to pull down an enormous salary due to over rated credentials he has garnered, in part by taking other peoples ideas and claiming them as his own. And folks like me are put on the street by FOX as a result of "cost cutting", but incompetent blowhards keep their jobs.
Digger and glowing hockey pucks. What a perfect legacy

Anonymous said...

Wanna see a race in 3D?

Then get off the couch and go to the race! Best 3D I've ever seen!

Anonymous said...

Well, why not, ESPN is doing the Raiders Chargers game in 3D next week as a test. The NFL Broadcast Committee made up of several NFL owners will be watching the game.
Actually, they've done a test already, this week.

The result: While there were technical glitches, the viewers overall enjoyed the game as presented in 3D. Said it made them feel like they were there.