MSG Proclaims 3D Hockey a Success
Raucous crowd enjoys viewing party
By Glen Dickson -- Broadcasting & Cable, 3/25/2010 10:15:38 AM
"This will be the future of sports television," said MSG Media President Mike Bair, who added that he would like to produce a 3D concert event for the music network Fuse this summer.
While it is likely that only a handful of Cablevision subscribers actually got to see the game on new 3D TV sets, which only hit store shelves two weeks ago, an enthusiastic crowd of some 2,500 Rangers fans paid $20 apiece to watch the game in the Theater at Madison Square Garden (the Theater can seat around 5,600, but MSG blocked out a number of seats on the sides and rear of the Theater to ensure fans got a quality 3D effect). Bair noted that such viewing parties might be a good business in itself in the near term, as many Rangers and Knicks games are sold out, particularly during the playoffs.
The paying customers seemed to enjoy the 3D game, which was delivered using RealD's digital cinema technology. The crowd cheered loudly throughout a contest that was crucial to the Rangers' slim playoff hopes (the Rangers won 5-0). The game was produced using six 3D camera rigs from 3ality Digital, including three beamsplitters, two side-by-side units and a robotic unit. Bair said that the production came together in just the past two weeks, as MSG seized an opportunity to use 3ality's gear between a Black Eyed Peas concert it produced earlier this month and the NAB show in Las Vegas next month.
Bair said the short prep time made securing carriage of the 3D game with other operators difficult, though MSG was open to it. Comcast will be carrying a 3D broadcast of the Masters next month and DirecTV plans to launch three 3D channels in June.
"It was really just a timing issue," said Bair.
Scott O'Neil, president of MSG Sports, said he was surprised by how quickly the tickets for the viewing party sold out with such a short promotional window; MSG just announced the 3D broadcast last week and began touting the viewing party on its various channels and through radio spots and emails. He was also impressed with how good the 3D footage looked, especially considering the only 3D hockey shot to date was some test footage from the outdoor Winter Classic at Boston's Fenway Park this winter. Andy Rosenberg, who has directed two 3D productions for the NBA All-Star games, oversaw MSG's 3D production.
"There aren't too many people who know too much about shooting a live game, so I wasn't sure what the experience would be like," said O'Neil.
Both Bair and O'Neil said that going forward, they would have to strike a balance between the ideal camera positions for 3D and the "seat kills" that would result, which require the Rangers to either move customers from their normal seats or sell less tickets. Bair said that camera placements for 3D will be closely considered as the Garden is renovated over the next year.
MARK WILSON - 3/25/2010 5:49:54 PM EDT
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