ESPN, ABC to Use New Technology to Light Up 3-Point Line on Broadcasts

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ESPN, ABC to Use New Technology to Light Up 3-Point Line on Broadcasts
Jack Arent/Getty Images

ABC will experiment with a virtual light-up system for the three-point arc during its Saturday night prime-time NBA broadcasts this season.

"It will give viewers instant clarity on whether a three-point shot has been attempted, which hasn't been consistently evident during a live telecast," senior coordinating producer Tim Corrigan told the Associated Press (via Yahoo Sports).  

The system will debut during Saturday night's matchup between the San Antonio Spurs and the Cleveland Cavaliers. It's unclear how the line will appear on the screen. When a player makes a three-pointer, the line will hover on the screen briefly after the shot, while it will disappear on a miss.

On the surface, the move will serve to answer one of the most classic basketball-related questions: Was that a two or a three? You see it at every level, ranging from playground pickup to the NBA. Even in our golden age of technology, referees are often reliant on replay technology to determine close calls—ones that will now be made for the viewer instantly.

Implementation here is key. From an aesthetics perspective, there is a certain way fans are accustomed to viewing basketball. None of that includes a glowing three-point line.

While there is an easy comparison that can be made to the yellow first-down marker that's prevalent on football broadcasts, basketball is a different animal. The first-down marker is typically far ahead enough of the action as to not be a pre-snap distraction and is non-stationary. It moves along with the action on the field.

Three-point arcs are stationary. They won't move with the action. And basketball is a much more flowing sport than football, so there is more potential for the glowing arc to create a distraction for viewers.

As it stands, it's an interesting attempt at innovation. We'll just have to take a wait-and-see approach to Saturday night to see if it works.

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