Hi-Def Television: For Sports Fans, HD Is Must-See

Jan 30, 2006  •  Post A Comment

The puck flashing by, the sweat on a pitcher’s brow, the razor-thin placement of a receiver’s foot during a catch. These are the kinds of moments cited by high-definition pundits as the reason consumers have been buying HD television sets. Now, a study by the Consumer Electronics Association and the newly created Sports Video Group confirms that belief, and also underscores the purpose of the new group.

The study, from December 2005, found that nearly 60 percent of high-definition television owners consider themselves sports fans, while nearly 50 percent said sports programming in HD was the main reason they bought the set.

Sports content is so important to these viewers that 45 percent of HDTV subscribers who described themselves as sports fans would switch providers to get better programming of sports in HD, the study found.

Sharing Information

The Sports Video Group is an industry association formed late last year to help those in the sports business understand how to use technology to grow the business, said Ken Kerschbaumer, editorial director of the group. That includes HD and other technologies such as mobile TV and broadband.

The group’s makeup includes anyone in the food chain-broadcasters, regional sports networks, truck vendors, technology firms. The group will share the best practices to help all those entities understand how technology can be used to enhance their businesses. One of the first steps is to develop a national database of all the professional and college teams and the technical specs of their venues. That would eliminate the need for broadcasters to send someone out in advance to check for camera positions or truck locations for HD, for instance.

As part of that survey, the group will collect information regarding what special arrangements are needed to cover an event in HD as it relates to audio, wiring and other needs, said Steve Hellmuth, senior VP of operations and technology for NBA Entertainment and a member of the SVG advisory board.

“When this group came up, I said this is a great way to share information and knowledge,” Mr. Hellmuth said. While the NBA already has its own best practices group to share information across the league, the SVG specifically focuses on technology, and that’s particularly helpful given the current climate.

“We are all looking at a new media landscape, which includes delivering content on different devices-different content specialized for those devices,” he said.

Mr. Kerschbaumer said the SVG aims to answer questions such as: How can colleges build more sophisticated venues so a broadcaster like CSTV can more easily roll up a truck and televise an event in HD? How can a broadcaster ensure that both the standard-definition and high-definition viewing experiences are the best they can be? And where can a high school videographer learn how to shoot a football or basketball game today so he or she can be a better cameraperson shooting the Super Bowl six years from now?

The SVG also wants to help teams transition to using HD for their internal footage. “The world is going HD. If teams can provide their broadcasters with higher-quality video product, they become more valuable and can charge more for it. The goal for technology is to increase the value of your property,” Mr. Kerschbaumer said.

The SVG said the U.S.-based sports industry currently boasts more than 50 professional leagues, 300 professional teams and 75,000 teams at the collegiate and high school levels.