Tiger Woods may have apologized to the world -- but are you ready for him swinging his club in your living room?
That's the prospect golf-loving Comcast (CMCSA) subscribers are considering after the cable giant announced it would offer 3-D coverage of the Masters golf championship -- a first for a major sports broadcast. The new technology will be a boon to those viewers who, like Tiger, want to get up-close-and-personal with the action.
Comcast is the largest cable company in the country, with about 25 million subscribers.
"For the first time ever, consumers with new 3D televisions and 3D-enabled PCs will be able to watch the next evolution of 3D in their homes on television and on the Internet when the Masters broadcasts live in 3D from April 7-11," Derek Harrar, a Comcast senior vice president, wrote in a company blog post.
Tiger's Return: Too Big For Two Dimensions
Comcast's announcement of the Masters 3-D broadcast -- made one day before Woods formally announced he would return to the PGA Tour at the Masters -- has an almost transcendental logic: Only an event as staggeringly important as Woods's return to professional golf is worthy to be the first major sporting event broadcast in 3-D.
"Innovation has always been part of Masters tradition," Masters chairman Billy Payne told Variety. "Utilizing this technology marks another important milestone in allowing our at-home patrons to better experience the beauty of our course and excitement of our tournament.
Interestingly, Comcast says its 3-D broadcast won't be shown on CBS (CBS) or ESPN, which hold the standard and HD broadcast rights, but rather "through a dedicated 3D channel that will show about two hours of live footage per day."
But CBS isn't worried. On March 9, the network's News and Sports president, Sean McManus, told SI.com that "the first tournament Tiger Woods plays again, wherever it is, will be the biggest media event other than the Obama inauguration in the past 10 or 15 years."
For a little context: About 40 million people watched the Obama inauguration. Over 100 million watched the most recent Super Bowl. Last year, with Tiger in attendance, about 16 million people watched the Masters. That number will be way up this year, obviously.
When 2-D Redemption Isn't Good Enough
Now that Elin Woods seems to have re-embraced her husband -- the New York Post sanctified the reunion Monday -- Tiger is well on his way back to being in America's good graces. "The Masters is where I won my first major and I view this tournament with great respect," Woods said in a statement. "After a long and necessary time away from the game, I feel like I'm ready to start my season at Augusta."
In truth, as my colleague Jeff Bercovici points out, Woods's comeback bears all the typical characteristics of celebrity rebirth. "He was simply following the script that every disgraced celebrity knows to read from now: exposure, confession, penitence, rehabilitation, redemption" Bercovici wrote. "It's a script whose familiarity and predictability puts edgy fans and sponsors at ease."
But what if you don't have a 3-D enabled television or computer? No problem. "Sony, Panasonic and Samsung are beginning to make 3D-enabled TV sets available at retail," Comcast helpfully explains. "You will also be able to play the live 3D stream at www.masters.com on your PC, using a 3D media player, 3D monitor and 3D glasses."
Sounds kind of expensive. But hey, this is Tiger Woods we're talking about. Live a little.
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