Stephen Ross, the billionaire owner of the Miami Dolphins, wants to put a streaming video device in the hand of every NFL fan, broadcasting live footage of the game you just paid to attend. So why bother going at all?
The device, called FanCast, streams video to a 4-inch screen, allowing you to watch out-of-town games - or the one you would be seeing, if you just looked up. Twelve other teams are on board to distribute the players to fans, banking on Ross's assertion that "technology for the fan at home is so good - with large-screen HD sets - that I have to give a better experience to the fan to come out".
I'm at a loss to figure out what part of that makes sense. The ability to watch a HD broadcast of your favourite teams from home is a godsend, of course. But the thrill of live sports - the spectacle! - is something else entirely. It's an occasion. You boo, you drain inordinately expensive beers - you watch actual human beings. Ross thinks this isn't enough.
But if, for some reason, the excitement of actually attending a stadium game isn't cutting it for you, will a dinky 4-inch screen really transform the experience? At that point, why not just stay home? Ross would counter, I would imagine, that football fans want access to multiple games - plus alternate camera angles and stats - wherever they are. But this just seems like more sad evidence of our inability to keep our faces away from LCD screens.
Technology has enhanced sports - no doubt about that. Dazzling jumbotrons, impeccable slow-motion camera work, and, of course, the aforementioned HD home-viewing experience. But the notion of watching football from within a football stadium seems like a case of a bored billionaire with a bad idea. I look forward to an enlightened new era of attending concerts with earbuds jammed in or bringing my laptop to the cinema so I can catch up on Mad Men. [NYT]