Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rant #320: Two Firsts In One Day

Today is the anniversary of two broadcasting firsts. Each one, in its own way, changed the way we watch sports, whether it be on television or on our home computers.

The first anniversary to celebrate is actually the more important of the two. On this day in 1939, the first major league baseball game was televised. It was a doubleheader (remember those?) between the Cincinnati Reds and the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Since then, thousands of baseball games and other sporting events have been televised, bringing into our homes visual moments that we could have only conjured up in our minds during broadcasts of these games on radio. Hearing a game on radio is another unique experience unto itself, but actually seeing the images on a box in our living rooms must have been something really, really special 71 years ago today--and in black and white yet!

The other anniversary is important, only because it offers another way to watch sports. It's not an event that changed things, like the previous one did, but it is nonetheless important in itself.

On this day in 2002, the first major league baseball game was video streamed online. The game involved the New York Yankees and the Minnesota Twins, and just 30,000 subscribers were able to see this game in this way.

While this is not the preferred way to watch sports, it gave viewers another alternative. Now, just about every game can be seen online with a subscription, which is quite pricey.

And again, compared to the actual first television broadcast of a game, this particular anniversary is pretty minor.

However, the funny thing is that while 30,000 subscribers watched the streamed game, I will bet that many less watched the first TV broadcast.

TVs were a luxury few but the wealthy could afford back then, so it is not out of the realm of belief that many less than 30,000 actually watched this game on their sets at home.

TV didn't really become a staple until after World War II, and even then, it really didn't become somewhat affordable until the mid to late 1950s. My mother talks about her family having their first TV in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and actually having parties built around watching the TV--because so few people had one in their homes.

Although I don't think streaming broadcasts live on the Internet is as important as watching events on TV for the first time way back when, it shows how much we have progressed--at least electronically--over the past 70 years.

My parents are both nearing 80, and what advances they have seen!

Will my own kids one day say the same thing about me? I doubt it, but with the world moving so fast, you never know.

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