Jewish World Review Jan. 21, 2005/ 11 Shevat, 5765
More iPod News
If I ever write my autobiography there would most certainly be a chapter (undoubtedly the longest chapter) entitled, "Stuff I Just Don't Get." Among the numerous entries listed in that section would be "iPods."
You might recall that last week I wrote about the invasion of the iPods, those new portable little devices used for storing and playing music and other audio programs. People carry these things with them all day long and listen to music, foreign language, audio-books, and basically anything recordable. I wrote that I didn't understand the fascination and desire of tuning out and turning one's back on the world, which is what people do who plug themselves into these gadgets. I said that I just didn't get the whole iPod craze.
Now comes additional news on the iPod front which further baffles me. The Associated Press has reported that the National Football League has announced an agreement with Audible Inc., an online distributor of audiobooks and other spoken-word programming, to make recordings of this year's remaining playoff games available for portable audio players, including Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod.
Additionally, replays of the Super Bowl will be made available as well. Complete recordings of these "old games" will cost about $10 a piece, although you can order certain highlights of games for between 95 cents and $4.95.
Evidently there is an audience for watching old sports games on TV since they have a cable channel that is completely devoted to it. Although it doesn't appeal to me as a wonderful way to spend an evening, I can sort of understand why some guys might want to watch really old games featuring sports stars of the past , historically it's interesting to see a Sandy Koufax, say, performing at his peak. But LISTENING to last week s or last month s games on an iPod I just don t get at all.
The NFL wouldn't have made this huge deal unless there was a demand for audio of old sports games, so clearly I'm the one who's out of it. It's just that I don't know anyone personally who goes around saying, "Boy, wouldn't it be great if I could listen to old football games while I'm out doing my shopping or getting a haircut?"
Although not what you might call a devoted sports fan, I nevertheless have enjoyed going to baseball, hockey and basketball games from time to time. I'll watch baseball on TV and root, root, root for the home team, as the song goes. The World Series can be tremendously exciting if the teams are well matched. Having said that, an awful lot of what I like about watching a sports game has to do with the suspense of the outcome and the fun of the live spontaneity. Both those elements are missing in old games. And just listening to an old game without seeing it would drive me nuts.
Never mind old games, I don't even like listening to LIVE games on the radio. I admit it; I'm a product of the television generation, I need the pictures.
Just as so many other things that I don't understand prove ultimately to be enormously popular, I'm sure listening to old games will be too. I never understood men wanting to wear earrings, necklaces, and bracelets, but millions do. I never understood turning one's body into a walking, permanent billboard, and yet there are almost as many tattoo parlors as Starbucks these days. I never understood why anyone would want to listen to music that ceased to be music and was really just noise, but that's what sells records these days.
Maybe this NFL deal will be just the beginning of a whole new market of audio programs for the iPod. If this proves to be successful, might we not also see the repackaging of audio from old television sitcoms and other TV shows? Just imagine being able to listen to last month's episodes of "Extreme Makeover" or "American Idol".
Or how about the audio from old news broadcasts? Wouldn't it be great to listen to Dan Rather's CBS Evening News shows from a couple of months ago? And what better way to spend the day then to have reruns of "Sixty Minutes" plugged into your ear? Or to enjoy listening to highlights of last month's "Good Morning America" shows as you drive home from work.
If all that goes over big, then they can introduce the next level of wonderful audio repackaging old weather broadcasts. "The Best of the Weather from last August" and "Highlights of Channel 4's Storm Watch 2003" might be just what the iPod consumer has been waiting for.
"Al Roker's Greatest Hits."
And the chapter in my autobiography entitled, "Stuff I Just Don't Get" , will get even longer.
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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.