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NFL, Telecom & HDTV

Does John Madden care whether you're watching on FiOS?

January 8, 2007

2 Min Read
NFL, Telecom & HDTV

1:20 PM -- It's NFL playoff time. Time for some quick stats:

  • Dallas Cowboys kicker Martin Gramatica's listed height: 5'8"

  • Gramatica's apparent height: 4'10"

  • Giants QB Eli Manning's listed age: 26 years old

  • How old Eli Manning looks: 17

  • Number of times TV announcer Al Michaels referred to PON technology in this weekend's games: 0

  • Number of times TV commentator John Madden referred to "fiber to the home": 0

So what's my point? I'm wondering how HDTV -- and football -- will affect the deployment of FTTP technology. Do people actually care how they get their NFL? How many folks this weekend were watching the NFL in HD over a fiber network? I haven't found a way to get a reliable estimate -- if you have one, please send it my way. My sense is that it was a tiny fraction of overall football viewership.

Dallas Mavericks owner and HD maven Mark Cuban made a good point recently: Because it is so bandwidth hungry and relatively sophisticated to deliver, HD is the competitive weapon that traditional video distribution companies hold over the Internet model. But their window of opportunity is rapidly closing.

Over time, you would expect that bandwidth-hungry HDTV -- whose demand is driven by big prime-time events such as football -- is going to put pressure on the telcos to accelerate their fiber deployments and move more directly to PON, rather than to shorter-term solutions such as fiber to the node (FTTN).

But first, the broadcast companies need to get their act together. Although all of the NFL playoffs will be broadcast in HD, surprisingly, only about a quarter of local NFL broadcasts this season were available in HD. If big-media wants to do better to beat the Internet, they've got to kick it up a notch.

So far, though, John Madden doesn't seem to care about fiber. Oh well -- maybe broadband will hit the mainstream with the beer-and-pizza crowd next year.

— R. Scott Raynovich, Editor in Chief, Light Reading

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