Why 3-D Soccer Broadcasts Are Not For Me


The hype about 3-D in recent weeks has been immense. First it was ESPN announcing it would unveil the first 3-D television network this summer and would show up to 25 World Cup games in 3-D. Second, Sky Sports debuted the first Premier League game in 3-D when it broadcasted Arsenal against Manchester United in three dimension at select locations around England. And then, of course, there was this little film named Avatar that became the highest grossing movie worldwide of all time.

I’ve held back from offering my opinion on the subject until now. So, speaking on behalf of soccer fans, here’s what “we” think:

We never asked for it. We never wanted it. We don’t want to watch TV with goggles on. We don’t want to buy a special TV to watch games in 3-D. We don’t want gimmicks. We just want quality soccer broadcasts.

There, I’ve said it. Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, you can see why I haven’t written about the topic until now because I didn’t want to join in the hype. Rather than invest enormous time, money and resources into developing 3-D technology, companies such as ESPN and Sky Sports would be better suited in developing technology to enhance the 2-D presentation of its current soccer matches. Find new and innovative ways to show the viewer whether an attacker was offside. Give viewers a birds-eye view of what it’s like to watch the game from a seat in the stadium (and how much better the TV picture is). Provide us new and interesting camera angles. Improve the quality of the TV production so it’s more like the Bundesliga where pundits are on the field before a game begins and you get to really feel the passion and hear the noise from the stadium.

Sorry folks but 3-D television is not for me. I don’t want a headache while watching a game and I don’t want to spill beer over myself when the goggles mess with my depth perception.

This is a product that has been created where there is zero pent-up demand for it. It’s 2010 and we’re still clamoring for HD broadcasts let alone games in 3-D. Let’s revisit the technology in a few years from now when the technology has improved, the costs for 3-D television sets have dropped and when there’s actually an interest and demand for it, and then – maybe then – we’ll be ready for it. But not now.

22 thoughts on “Why 3-D Soccer Broadcasts Are Not For Me”

  1. I’m a fan of 3D movies in the movie theater but I’m not putting on glasses to watch TV at home. I think that all the companies hyping this – from various areas of the business – are in for a surprise when they realize that it’s all really just hype and that there’s no actual demand for 3D television in the home.

    Maybe one day when there’s no requirement for special glasses or other annoyances like that – like in many Sci-Fi movies that show incredible technologies we might see in the future, realistic or not – maybe then it’ll be something truly revolutionary. Right now it’s just a gimmick for a very small niche, and I don’t think they watch sports. If you want an expensive home theater and watch a lot of movies there, sure.

  2. Once upon a time there was no demand for colour tv. They said it would never catch on.

    Same for HD.

    When they remove the need for goggles, why wouldn’t you watch things in 3d?

  3. here here. 3D is a solution without a problem. HDTV was pushed on the world because content producers wanted a way to control what people could record (HDCP). There’s no such force behind 3DTV and to introduce the cost and hassle of new TVs and glasses? This will be the next Laserdisc.

    1. Let’s be fair here: HDTV wasn’t pushed on the world solely because of copy control. It’s a vast improvement in picture quality, and the conversion of analog to digital will free up spectrum for the next generation of wireless data technology. Yes, there are problematic things like HDCP and DRM and government handling of the spectrum, but we’ll see quite a few positives out of this, too.

      I totally agree with you on 3DTV, though. Give me a 3D IMAX broadcast in a theater, but in the home? No thanks.

      1. Lots of positives for sure. But I’m convinced that it got the political push because of DRM. You could argue that any technological advancement has positives, but the adoption rate is always tied to something other than technology. VHS to porn, DVDs to the Playstation. The immediate comparison of HDTV is HD Radio. How’s that working out?

  4. It’s not like something will happen in the game to cause people watching to jump or be shocked, which is a big part of the 3D experience. Things that explode or look like they are flying at you can be pretty cool, but I fail to see what 3D will provide to a viewer.

  5. By the way, some of the large Mitsubishi TV’s are 3D-ready and only cost $1,000 in some cases. The rear-projection at 65-inches has improved to the point that I went with size instead of an LCD or Plasma.

    Just wanted to throw this out there because it seems everyone thinks a TV with 3D is going to cost $3,000-$4,000.

  6. Gaffer, did you get a chance to preview the 3D technology on the ESPN cruise? Like you and the earlier commenters, I am skeptical about needing this new-fangled technology, and paying a great deal of my hard earned money on both the new television and upgraded cable/satellite fees.

    Apparently, ESPN had a demo of their 3D technology set up in L.A. for the NCAAF National Championship game. Some of my favorite writers (Grant Wahl and Andy Staples of SI.com), raved about it. Consider me intrigued about it.

    1. Hi Christian, nope I haven’t had an opportunity to experience ESPN’s 3-D technology, so I can’t comment first hand. But I would like to at least try it once to see what it looks like, but I’m not that excited about the technology to be honest.

      The Gaffer

  7. Cheers Gaffer…

    Completely agree with the points you’ve made. If you’re American and follow sports in this country, you, like me, have been very fortunate to see top quality production and delivery of professional sports. Whether it is the camera angle, the cheeky and insightful commentators, studio production & innovation, the human element stories while the game isn’t on the field, etc…

    Can you imagine ESPN draping one of those cable-line cameras from the Kop end to the Anfield Road end, following play on the field from about twenty five feet above, as Fernando whirls around a defender and lashes a ball into the back of the net? Come on, who the hell wouldn’t want to see that? I am desperate for it.

    ESPN is on the right track. They’ve gotten their foot in the door in England and I can only hope they continue to introduce these types of successful elements of their bread and butter sports like ovalball, baseball, etc…into the football telecasts.

    FOX Soccer Channel……Hmmmmm…..I sincerely hope that they can get a bump from the launch of the HD component and build up through the World Cup and into next season. I think I’ll reserve my judgment until I see what they’ve done to improve in the next six months. Everyone needs a chance to work out the kinks. Except for ESPN, they’ve been doing this thing for years. And they’ve set the standard. Not that they can’t improve because they obviously should heed this article for what WE want.

  8. I’m not gonna knock it before I try it. And seeing as I already have a 3D ready HD tv I will give it a whirl once its available. Its one of those things you try and if you don’t like it then no big deal you can just watch it in HD. I don’t see the harm in this. Besides none of us will be complaining when Keeping Up With the Kardashians is in 3D and that’s really what this technology is for. Those sorts of things. They have tried it out on sports in the past and have gotten positive feedback so if the technology is there why not try it. Eventually, once the demand is higher the the consumers are buying for 3Dtv’s then costs will go down for the skeptical consumers to try. Same thing happened with HD and now most of us have been bitching because FSC is or wasn’t in HD fast enough for us.

  9. I think it was about 2 weeks ago when United destroyed Arsenal but that was the first 3D football match. It was displayed in 3D in 11 carefully selected pubs around England and the comments were very positive.

    Here are some comments from people invited to view the 3D broadcast:

    David Wubelski, 71, from London, said: ‘I’ve been watching Arsenal for 60 years and went to a game four weeks ago and this is better – the close-ups are fantastic but the wide angle is not quite so impressive.

    ‘Wearing the glasses is fine, you don’t even notice it. I don’t normally go to a pub to watch a game but I’d consider it if it was being shown in 3D.’

    Laura Prylls, 25, from London said: ‘I wear glasses anyway so I’ve just worn the 3D specs over the top and it’s fine, it’s not uncomfortable.’

    She added: ‘The atmosphere is really good, I don’t normally go to the pub for football but there’s a whole group of us here and everyone’s really excited. I’d definitely watch another game in 3D – it’s the future.

    Good reviews have been pouring out for a technology still in its infancy.

  10. Maybe the buzz is because those that have seen it are convinced. I’m skeptical, too, but isn’t it a little non-newsworthy to write a blog post about how unconvinced you are about the 3D technology you haven’t seen? I don’t know that I’d be converting to a 3D TV at home, but I can see this being really cool “event” television where a big crowd gathers at a sportsbar to watch world cup games. The ability to drink your beer without spilling on yourself would be just one more part of the shared experience.

  11. “I don’t normally go to a pub to watch a game”

    “I don’t normally go to the pub for football”

    Excellent sample selection here, no statistical bias whatsoever. Half the reason for going to a pub to watch football is to socialise and interact with your mates (translation = drink beer and talk incoherently very loudly). Wearing some silly goggles which obviously distort your regular vision would severely hinder this fine tradition.

    1. Uh the people that were questioned were regular match goers.

      Actually being at a match is eons beyond being around a bunch of loudmouth drunks who won’t let you hear what is being said.

  12. best buy showed it to me, it sucs..you have to buy expensive tv, you have to buy a separate computer for it and then the surcharges from directv..in the end…not amazing…first let’s solve the hd problem and make it affordable for everyone, i can’t even get my futbol in hd….much less 3D!!

  13. i have seen sporting events broadcast (by ESPN) in 3D, i will pass on this in the future. gave me a headache and i don’t think it adds any value to the viewing of the game.

    this is just a silly fad and will pass.

  14. Gaffer, I take your points about networks making more an effort trying to improve the actual broadcast that they have now (Like actually giving us HD first), and as you say – different camera angles that can be controlled by the viewer (I’m losing my patience with directors who arbitrarily decide to show us shots of bare – chested fans or 3 minute old close ups of the goal keeper making a routine save when there is a counter-attack going on.) Also, viewer control of the audio feed, sans the commentators if desired, sub-titles of the songs as the supporters sing (an entertaining, albeit sometimes x-rated part of the viewer experience that sadly goes over the heads of most fans here in the US)

    However, as Tom rightfully says: Technology waits for no one; I thought HD was a gimmick until I saw it. Plus, the needed improvements of the 2-D broadcast and the development of 3-D are, or should be mutually exclusive.

    1. You are correct they are mutually exclusive the 3D broadcast match between Arsenal and Manchester United used a seperate set of cameras and seperate commentators.

      The idea is you get all your channels in 2D just like you do now. Pay a small premium and you’ll get a few of those channels in 3D versions as well and you can switch back and forth between which version you prefer.

      3D is being coined and sold as another option. All 3D TV’s can happily do 2D. 2D content will be sold alongside 3D content on blu-ray discs and the 3D channels will have simultaneous broadcast 2D versions.

      All they are doing is giving you the option of 3D in case you want it at the moment they are not launching channels to replace HD broadcasts.

  15. I finally saw Avatar last weekend, and I found myself taking the 3-D glasses off halfway through the movie and enjoying the experience much more for the second half of the film. Yes the 3-D effects were great, but it felt like a gimmick to me. After the dinosaur chase scenes were over, the 3-D didn’t add much value for me. And I imagine it would be a similar experience if I watched 3-D soccer on TV.

    The Gaffer

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