"We got a call from the [production] truck. There was a fiber issue with DirecTV in the first two innings. If you haven’t seen the last two batters, you really have to put the glasses back on, and come back and see what the real 3D experience is," YES COO Ray Hopkins told attendees at a viewing party here Sunday afternoon.
The brief technical glitch impacted viewers watching nationwide on DirecTV. YES Network said the issue didn't impact other cable and telco affiliates carrying the game, which included Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), Cox Communications Inc. , Service Electric Broadband, Blue Ridge Communications, Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) FiOS TV. (See MSOs, Verizon Play 3D Ball With YES Net.)
Reporters and industry executives attending the New York viewing party at Helen Mills Theater didn't realize there was a problem in the beginning of the game since images appeared in 3D, including the YES Network logo that was overlaid on the screen. But at the end of the second inning, after the signal was restored to its full quality, the difference in depth perception in the 3D broadcast compared to HD or standard definition was stunning.
The camera angles that delivered the most jaw-dropping reactions were were shot from center field and from behind home plate. The center field camera allowed viewers watching in 3D to get a real-life feel for the distance between an umpire standing in short center field, a base runner leading off of second base, the pitcher, hitter, and catcher. Two cameras positioned behind home plate -- with low and high angles -- gave viewers a real-life look at how a curve ball drops. Even watching the catcher throw the ball back to the mound after each pitch -- not worth noting in standard definition and in only two dimensions -- was dazzling in 3D.
Sunday's game was the second 3D broadcast of the weekend for YES. It also distributed the Yankees-Mariners games on Saturday in the new format.
3D packs a premium
Hopkins told Light Reading Cable while watching Sunday’s game that it costs about six times more to produce a game in 3D than in HD. That’s a high cost, considering the limited number of viewers that had 3DTVs and subscribe to a multichannel provider that carried the game.
Hopkins estimated that 500 to 10,000 viewers saw the 3D broadcasts over the weekend. Why make the effort if the games are going to be available to a small number of viewers?
"We like to be pioneers. We were first with HD, first with in-market streaming, first in terms of video-on-demand (VoD), first in terms of interactive," Hopkins said in respect to the regional sports network market. (See Verizon Scores Yankees Games for FiOS Subscribers and How YES Network's In-Market Streaming Deal Was Done.)
He said YES viewed the 3D telecasts as a test, noting that the network doesn’t plan to begin shooting all of its games in 3D. "If that were to happen, it would be three to six years down the road," Hopkins added.
It was the first live 3D sports event viewed by this reporter. Some takeaways and observations from Sunday’s game:
- YES and sponsor Panasonic Corp. (NYSE: PC) displayed the HD broadcast on five of the vendor's Viera 3DTVs, and handed out battery-operated active 3D glasses to attendees at the viewing party.
- The Panasonic 3D glasses would power off if the viewer walked away from the TV, or looked away from the set. This was useful feature that not only conserves battery power, but also eases eye strain.
- The YES Network logo and graphics displaying the score and other statistics appeared to hover in front of the TV screen.
- It's not just the action on the field that is stunning in 3D. Even players and managers standing with their arms over the railing in the dugouts drew the attention of viewers watching in 3D.
- The sound quality was also improved in 3D. Viewers could hear the ball whistling from the pitcher’s hand to the catcher’s mitt.
- At 6'7" and 290 pounds, Yankees starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia looks big in 2D. He really stands out on the screen in 3D.
- The Panasonic 3D glasses were large enough to fit over prescription eyeglasses, as several reporters in attendance demonstrated while watching the game.