Monday, February 05, 2007

Superbowl tech

Does this thing ever live up to the hype?

Even in Canada (where an NFL franchise is only a pipe-dream for some Torontonians) many people gather around the TV in late January/early Feb to watch large men try to gain 10 yards in 4 downs (as opposed to the Grey Cup, where we gather around the tube in late November to watch large men try to gain 10 yards in 3 downs).

Typically though, Canadians are also made to suffer from the pain of "simulcasting" or "sim-subbing" where Global Television, the TV conglomerate that holds the Canadian broadcast rights to the Superbowl, takes the original US broadcast and rips out all the "good" ads and resells the airtime to Canadian companies. If the viewer is lucky, the original advertiser also sells to Canadians, and buys the same airtime to show the "good" ad to Canadian. has a good rundown of the whole evil business here.

Luckily for the guests at my Superbowl party, for whatever reason, the CBS high definition signal wasn't replaced, so we got to see all the original ads. Unfortunately, this year's crop was not the best. A few chuckles, and everyone broke out a hanky for GMC's assembly line ad (which I think is just a ripoff of the great Spike Jonze IKEA commercial from a few years ago), but nothing really that I will remember next week.

The HDTV pictures were great -- pouring rain never looked so good -- and the super-slo motion replays really showed off how talented the players are, able to keep one foot barely in bounds to make a catch, or punch an opponent at just the right spot to knock a football loose. But aside from that, I don't think CBS made the greatest use of the new technologies, partly because the rain kept blurring pictures, or in the case of the overhead field cam, obliterated it entirely.

And the game on the field wasn't that great, either.

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