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Quick Hits: NFL Goes 3-D

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Brief scrutiny of today's headlines.

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Coming (eventually) to a sports bar near you: arcing 50-yard touchdown passes, dazzling runs and skull-crushing tackles in 3-D.

The National Football League, the smartest promoters in professional sports, will broadcast next week's game between the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Charges live in 3-D to theaters in New York, Los Angeles and Boston, The Wall Street Journal reports.

If all goes well – and there are few promotional missteps in the NFL – the experiment will be the first step to regular 3-D broadcasts of the league's games.

The NFL's honchos are thinking ahead. High-definition TV, once The Next Big Thing, may become a yawn-inducing candidate for the Smithsonian like a 12-inch black and white set with rabbit ears.

Prices on flat-panel TVs are tumbling and the screens may soon become a commodity product much like DVD players. The NFL is always on the prowl for something to goose ratings, and 3-D broadcasts may be it.

The theater broadcasts of the game are closed to the general public, but will include representatives of consumer electronics companies and the league's broadcasting partners. The goal: Prove the idea. If it takes off, the bet is the consumer electronics to support it will follow.

Living room versions of 3-D equipment are years away, but it's not that long ago that high-definition broadcasts were new and wondrous. The price of the equipment will have to come way down before your neighborhood sports bar springs for one or more 3-D sets, so don't hold your breath.

The NFL filmed the 2004 Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers in 3-D and the technology put viewers in the action – reportedly, some even moved to catch the ball. The technology has improved since then and live, closed circuit transmissions are now possible.

Hollywood is looking at digital projection to cut production and distribution costs and improve the image. IMAX 3-D theaters are available in major markets and the studios plan to release more movies using the technology.

So why not sports?

Why indeed.
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