The 2006 FIFA World Cup, to be hosted in Germany, will play a major part in Europe's transition to digital television, according to the 2005 IFA-Berlin Report. IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) is a bi-annual consumer electronics show, which attracts the industry's leading manufacturers, and provides a forum for the discussion of consumer electronics in Europe.
According to the report, "coverage of outside sports events would be the key driver for premium screen sales in 2006 and beyond. The [World Cup] was therefore seen as the rallying point for raising awareness of the benefits of High Definition in Europe."
Matches are set to be broadcast in High Definition digital signals, giving viewers with the appropriate technology access to improved image quality, match statistics, multi-language support, and many more of the plethora of features which digital television offers. While regular, analogue broadcasts will still be available, pay TV broadcaster Premiere has already said that they will be broadcasting the entire World Cup in High Definition, and free-to-air broadcasters are being urged to follow the same lead.
With Australia already struggling to meet its deadline of 2008 for the switch-off of metropolitan analogue broadcasts, we couldn't help but wonder if a similar move holds to key to helping us Aussies upgrade in time. Imagine how many more HD TVs and set top boxes would be sold if the next Grand Final or Ashes was only available via digital broadcast! Such a move might appear to be a little draconian, but it would go a long way towards staving off another postponement of the analogue switch-off deadline. After some careful deliberation here at the Good Gear Guide however, we've agreed that such measures might be a little too drastic. After all, depriving Australians of sport? That's just not cricket ...