SBD/January 9, 2013/Events and Attractions

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  • ESPN Pleased With Its 3D Progress; New Trauma-Sensing Skullcap Unveiled At CES

    Goodell again hinted at the idea of a franchise located in London

    3D TV remains sharply minimized at the Int'l Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year compared to recent years, but ESPN yesterday continued to show strong support for the oft-debated technology. Speaking at a panel on 3D TV, ESPN VP/Strategic Business Planning & Development Bryan Burns said the net is "definitely pleased with our progress thus far" with the technology. Monday night's BCS Championship game represented ESPN's 328th 3D production to date, and the company's dedicated 3D channel now is available to more than 70 million homes. Burns: "3D is still something that really delivers a truly jaw-dropping experience, and compared to initial run-up of (HD), we remain ahead of schedule." Meanwhile, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday participated in Verizon Chair & CEO Lowell McAdam's CES keynote address, touting the vast content and marketing partnership the league holds with Verizon. Goodell said, "Tech is a great frontier. We no longer have to go through a broadcast partner in a particular (foreign) region who might not appreciate our content as much." Goodell suggested the league eventually might place a franchise in London. The commissioner added he still is searching for better monitoring of player health in games via technology, and improved in-venue interaction with fans. He said, "We have found that every time we've given the fan the opportunity to engage with football, they want more." The Consumer Electronics Association yesterday projected the industry will rise by 2.7% in '13 to about $210B in U.S. shipment revenues, extending electronics' growth to a fourth straight year. The organization is estimating final figures for '12 will show 4.7% growth from '11, higher than the 3.7% rise predicted at last year's CES (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).

    EXTRA SENSE: In Boston, Hiawatha Bray reports Cambridge-based electronics maker MC10 "offered a sophisticated new way to protect athletes against head trauma." Titans QB Matt Hasselbeck, an adviser to the company, "demonstrated a skullcap with MC10’s trauma sensor built in." The cap, which will be available for purchase in the first half of the year, "features a digital readout that measures the force generated by a blow to the wearer’s head." This info will "make it easier for coaches and medical personnel to know if a player has suffered a damaging hit." Hasselbeck and former NFLer Isaiah Kacyvenski "showed an upcoming product that could serve a much larger market: a bandage-like plastic strip with circuitry to measure body temperature and heart rate." The strip "records the data and transfers it instantly when touched" by a Near Field Communication-equipped smartphone. MC10 "plans to introduce a commercial version by year’s end." The stick-on monitor "is far more comfortable than today’s bulky sensors, making it more likely nonathletes will use them" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/9).

    GR-APP-LING: DAILY VARIETY's Marc Graser reports WWE is the latest producer to "chase viewers to the second screen as it tries to keep audiences engaged with its programming." In launching "WWE Active" as part of the main WWE app two months ago, the company has "developed a powerful new tool to connect with its core fanbase, giving them a voice in its weekly shows while providing them with new content." Users also can "order tickets to local events, watch and purchase pay-per-views and buy merchandise from the WWEShop.com, turning the app into a source of revenue for the company." The new facet of the app "enables viewers to determine which match will take place during its three-hour 'Raw' through voting." WWE plans to "expand the app through its PPV events, streaming English and Spanish language feeds of April's 'WrestleMania XXIX'" (VARIETY.com, 1/9).

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  • WTA To Announce Pan Pacific Open Will Move From Tokyo To Wuhan, China

    The WTA today will announce one of its top tournaments is moving from Japan to China. The Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo will end what will have been a 30-year run after this year and move to Wuhan, China, hometown of top WTA player Li Na. The announcement comes amid a flurry of calendar developments from the WTA, including a 10% rise in prize money this year to $58.7M. Two events are relocating to China. In addition to the Tokyo one, which awards $2M in prize money, a smaller one in Malaysia will move in '14 to Hong Kong. "We are excited by the growth of women's professional tennis, particularly in key markets like China and Brazil," WTA Chair & CEO Stacey Allaster said in a statement. "Development in the BRIC markets, led by China, has been a strategic priority for the past several years.” The WTA is staging an inaugural event in Brazil this year, and the women’s event in Memphis will relocate to Rio de Janiero next year. The WTA also said it would announce in April the host city for its season-ending championships beginning in '14. They are in Istanbul this year.

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