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The musings of a Detroit-area sportswriter in the digital age.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

New era of programs is interesting, but not viable

Desmond Howard specialized in making tremendous catches in his career at Michigan. Now, one of his most famous, a 1991 fourth-down touchdown catch from Elvis Grbac against Notre Dame, will be further immortalized. Saturday's printed game programs will be laced with a special chip that includes new audio as well as the familiar call below:

"Open the program and you'll hear three unique perspectives of the play as it happened" the program description reads.
Included is coach Gary Moeller's on-field reaction, as well as Brent Musberger and Frank Beckmann on the TV and radio broadcasts. To further commemorate the TD snag, the audio chip insert folds out into a photo of "the catch" signed by Howard.
Howard went on to win the Heisman Trophy that season and was recently inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame. He'll be honored for the accomplishment Saturday.
Fans don't have to fight the crowds at Michigan Stadium's first night game to buy the special section. The programs can also be ordered online and feature a QR code which, when scanned, will redirect smartphone users to even more audio from that day.
CNBC's Darren Rovell says 1,000 copies of the $15 commemorative programs have already been sold. The sports business guru predicts Michigan will sell out of the 15,000 stock or pre-printed keepsakes, which will revitalize the game program industry. I agree with his first assessment, but not the latter. There may be a spike in multimedia programs, but it's a matter of time before the fans' interest is gone and the commemoration market collapses.
Also, the production cost of a commemorative program with an audio chip is higher than that of traditional print, driving the cost up for the fans. Diehards will always find money for these special products, but that doesn't mean it's going to be worth the cost and effort to keep producing them.


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