If it's a tradition like no other, then The Masters has also been at the forefront of some technological innovations, which the Grand Slam golf tournament continued today with the announcement that part of this year's competition will be produced in the 3D high-definition format and distributed for free by Comcast.
The 3D fare will focus on the back nine of the famed Augusta National Course, with two hours of live afternoon 3D available each day, beginning Wednesday April 7 with the Par 3 contest and continuing throughout the four tournament rounds from April 8 - 11.
News of The Masters' 3D telecasts comes on the cleats of last week's announcement by CBS that it will present the NCAA Final Four national semifinals on April 3 and the men's division 1 championship game in 3D to 100 theaters nationwide, via Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp. and LG Electronics.
At that time, CBS also said it had engaged in conversations with DirecTV and cable operators about making the marquee matchups in 3D available to residential consumers. Comcast declined to comment on March 15 about its potential interest in the 3D basketball games, while DirecTV could not be immediately reached for comment.
Sony Electronics will support the golf effort not only as a sponsor of the 3D Masters telecast, but will showcase the latest advances in professional camera equipment and its 3D-capable televisions. Comcast will join in the production effort and provide the distribution channels necessary to deliver the content free to its households throughout the U.S. Additionally, Comcast and IBM, the tournament's technology partner, will combine efforts to offer the 3D feed via www.masters.com.
The 3D production comes outside of the 2D telecasts from The Masters' rights-holders, CBS and ESPN.
In 1993, the Masters introduced its first HD production and became the first golf tournament presented live in HD on network TV in 2000, according to tourney officials.
"Innovation has always been part of Masters tradition," said Augusta National Golf Club and Masters Tournament chairman Billy Payne in a statement. "Utilizing this technology marks another important milestone in allowing our at-home patrons to better experience the beauty of our course and excitement of our tournament. We consider ourselves fortunate to be a leader in providing this technology, thanks in large part to our valuable partners who share in our commitment to deliver a meaningful and memorable viewing experience."