The National Basketball Association is teaming up with Turner Sports and a digital hardware and software provider to broadcast the U.S. sports league's all-star game in 3D in February.
The game, which will be shown live on Feb. 14 in 80 movie theaters in 35 states equipped with gear provided by Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp, is the first time an NBA game will be shown in 3D to a paying public across the country, the companies said on Tuesday.
Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.
"We want to be progressive. We want to be involved in future technologies," NBA vice president of engineering Mike Rokosa said in a telephone interview.
"It's a theatrical display technology today. Tomorrow, it's going to be in the home," he added. "We're looking that far down the road."
The NBA 3D telecast follows a similar event by the National Football League last week, which broadcast a game in a test for media and other guests between the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers in three cities.
Sports leagues are looking for new revenue streams as existing sales come under pressure during the recession, while theater chains are searching for new ways to use screens during off-peak hours. In October, the NBA said it was seeing softness in early season-ticket sales and announced plans to cut 80 jobs, or about 9 percent of its workforce.
The NBA featured the first live sports event in 3D with special viewing parties for the 2007 all-star game.
In 2007, more than 14,000 fans in Cleveland watched the Cavaliers play the San Antonio Spurs in 3D in the second game of the championship series on four 60-foot screens, while the Dallas Mavericks showed a game in 3D last season to 500 fans at a local theater. Fans did not pay to attend either event.
Turner Sports' coverage of the NBA event in Phoenix will be shown on up to 160 screens in 11 movie theater chains, reaching as many as 45,000 consumers. Other events to be aired that day include the slam dunk and three-point shooting contests, and tickets will cost $18 to $22.
Turner Sports is part of Time Warner Inc.
The NBA plans to do more 3D telecasts in the future, league officials said.
On Dec. 4, the NFL broadcast its first game in 3D in movie theaters in Boston, Los Angeles and New York.
3D system provider RealD 3D previously said the Bowl Championship Series college football championship game will be shown at selected theaters early next year, one of several live 3D sports broadcasts planned for 2009.
(Additional reporting by Nichola Groom in Los Angeles)