Would people be willing to pay to go to a movie theater to watch a football game in 3-D? That's the question the Wall Street Journal article (see Coming at You! NFL Looks at 3-D) would seem to suggest, though the reality is that this week's 3-D game between the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders is a by-invitation-only demo project focused more on kick starting 3-D for the home. Still, it brings up an interesting question -- and one that quite a bit of money rides on in Hollywood: What increment of experience elevates content to the point that consumers are willing to pay to see it in a theater?
Back in the 1960s, for example, would theaters have been able to charge people to come and see ordinary television programs in color? I doubt it. It's even more doubtful anyone in the 1970s would have been willing to shell out the ticket price for the thrill of adding stereo sound to the TV mix, either.
I can see 3-D football catching on in bars, much the way big screen TVs arrived in bars decades before they became commonplace in the home. But theaters? I don't think so.
For one thing, theatrical 3-D football would raise the question of what to do during the TV commercials. Of course, there is one football game where the commercials are considered as significant as the game -- the Super Bowl. That might be a special case for theatrical football -- especially since so many people watch the Super Bowl anyway, movie theaters are probably mostly empty on Super Bowl Sunday.
But movie theaters don't serve alcohol, and faced with a choice of beer or 3-D, I don't think there's much question which "feature" U.S. consumers would prefer to add to their football viewing.