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27/09/2007 - par Mark Tungate

Walking down a Paris street the other day, I heard a sudden roar of ­appreciation. It echoed along the concrete canyon and made me jump out of my skin - it was as if the entire city was shouting. This was no ­supernatural experience, however, but merely the Rugby World Cup. Somebody, clearly, had scored.

Live televised sporting events still have the power to bring people together around a screen. They're about the only events that still can. These days we all time-shift our TV viewing - recording our favourite shows for later consumption - which means it's a rare moment indeed when we're all watching the same thing at the same time. And for sports events, the screen concerned is often in a bar. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't consider watching Lost in a bar with a hundred other people.

The internet - and still less the new mobile screens - has failed to blunt the appeal of the TV when it comes to sport. In fact, just before the 2006 Football World Cup, many people went out and bought even bigger, better TV screens. When the Beijing Olympics gets going next year, I doubt many people are going to ­invest in Ipods. But federating broadcasts don't necessarily have to be sporting events. When the last episode of The Sopranos was shown in the States, bars were full of people who wanted to experience Tony's last televised moments together. With the right formula, TV entertainment can be appointment viewing again. Or maybe it's that ­family feeling.

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