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Cinemas offer a high-def fix

Technology is star on MLS broadcasts in Anschutz theaters

Posted: Thursday August 07, 2003 6:01 PM

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  • By Scott French, Soccer America

    The glories of high-definition television -- still, sadly, out of reach for most of us -- and its particular majesty for showing soccer, are being made available to the common man (and woman) in a series of Major League Soccer broadcasts at big-screen cinemas.

    HDNet, MLS's high-definition broadcast partner, is screening four of its 28 broadcasts this season to Philip Anschutz-owned theaters in or near Los Angeles, New York, Denver and Chicago. The Wednesday night screenings -- the final two are Los Angeles Galaxy home games, July 9 vs. Colorado and July 30 vs. Columbus -- offer a remarkable glimpse at HDTV and how it may revolutionize television coverage of the sport.

    Utilizing a wider screen ratio (16:9 vs. normal television's 4:3) significantly higher resolution (everything, near and far, is in focus) and a variety of camera angles that plants the viewer into the action (loved the aerial view on free kicks, which puts you in the shooter's shoes), the high-definition broadcast makes even bad games entertaining.

    The opener in the cinema series, a scoreless draw between Colorado and D.C. United, offers proof. The match was deadly dull -- "Not the kind of game you want to see tonight," noted HDNet color commentator Marcelo Balboa (quite good), partnered with Glenn Davis -- but the spectacle delighted two dozen fans who paid $12 to watch at the Edwards Irvine Spectrum in Southern California. The technology was the real star.

    It can't help but fuel hunger for the real thing. With HDTV prices still rising into the thousands, it may be all we can afford.

    Scott French is a senior editor at Soccer America magazine.

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