As I recall, it was 20 years ago this last fall when we dropped the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts from our radio service. We did so because the Met required stations in the "lower 48" to carry the broadcasts live, unlike stations in Canada, Alaska and Hawaii. For those of us in the Pacific Time Zone, that meant prime real estate on Saturday mornings. At the time, we replaced it with classical music on Saturdays and non-Met opera on Sunday evenings. Those classical listeners on the next pledge drive contributed an order of magnitude more than the opera listeners ever had in the same time period -- though all 250 opera listeners apparently owned typewriters and used them in what was (and still stands) our the greatest protest over a programming decision. I thought the Met displayed stunning arrogance in this ("It's like a sporting event," I was told). But then they probably thought the same of us, who, after all, were obviously rural philistines depriving our listeners of opera from this great institution.
All that history is that is to key on the "sporting event" remark. The Met has hit on a great idea for opera, which after all is as much a visual event as it is an aural one -- and, arguably, it's as much of a social event as it is an artistic one. They're beaming live opera performances in high definition video to movie theaters. NPR carried a story on this on the 31st, to which you can listen here. Good luck to them.
Update 3 Jan. 2007:
The Los Angeles Times reports there were technical difficulties at some theaters. Link: TVPredictions. --Dennis