2000s: Innovations we loved
Since HDTVs ranged from $2,700 to $110,000 at the beginning of the 2000s, it's estimated that just several thousand households watched the Rams and Titans play in the first major sporting event broadcast in high definition. Early HD proselytizers included
A joint venture between the PGA Tour and IBM, the ShotLink scoring system captures and reports real-time information on every shot by every player in every tournament. Through a combination of laser triangulation, GPS technology and walking scorers (who transmit stance, lie and club information through handheld Palm Vx computers), ShotLink provides information that's changed the way fans watch and understand the sport. A handful of prominent players like
Digital video recorders first surfaced when ReplayTV and TiVo unveiled devices at the Consumer Electronics Show in 1998. But the technology didn't become commonplace until 2003, when cable and satellite providers began offering affordable dual-tuner DVRs, which enabled viewers to record one live program while watching another. The TV listings that once enslaved sports fans are today an afterthought.
The launch of
Although the microblogging tool didn't crack the cultural mainstream until nearly three years after the
The two most popular Web sites for user-generated live video streaming -- which incidentally launched within weeks of one another in March 2007 -- have been game-changers for office-bound fans who want to watch out-of-market (or out-of-continent) sporting events for free. The almost-always-illegal streams are often taken down, only to be replaced by other intrepid users. Within minutes, a user can dial up everything from blacked-out NFL games to the early rounds of tennis tournaments to Champions League ties (if you're lucky enough to find it in English).
3ality Digital and RealD chose a Thursday-night game between the Raiders and the Chargers for the first live 3D broadcast of a pro football game. Shrewd choice: By removing the variable of drama from San Diego's lopsided victory, the technology itself took center stage. If a one-sided snoozer of a game can be
The NFL Network introduced a revamped RedZone channel for this year's regular season, a channel that switches to any game when a team moves inside the 20. The nonstop medley of live look-ins and highlights -- commercial-free! -- can satisfy the appetite of the most insatiable fan. "RedZone is a dozen kinds of fantastic, a first-ballot inductee into the I-Can't-Believe-I-Ever-Lived-Without-This Hall of Fame," read