How the Dallas Cowboys Scoreboard Works

By: Jonathan Strickland

LED HDTV Technology

The scoreboard is secured to the two steel arches that support the stadium's roof.
The scoreboard is secured to the two steel arches that support the stadium's roof.
AP Photo/Matt Slocum

High-definition television technology comes in a few different varieties. Two popular technologies in the home market are liquid crystal displays (LCD) and plasma screens. An LCD screen uses electrical impulses to shape tiny crystals so that light can pass between them. The light that passes through forms the image you see on the screen. Plasma screens use an ionized gas to create light and images. In both technologies, we refer to each point of light on the screen as a pixel.

The screen at the Dallas Cowboys stadium uses a different technology -- light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. At its most basic level, the LED is a light bulb. The light bulbs in the stadium's display are tiny and come in one of three colors: red, blue or green. By combining the light from four LEDs (two red LEDs, one blue LED and one green LED), the display creates a single pixel. Mitsubishi refers to each LED as a dot.


Mitsubishi arranges the dots in a pattern the company calls Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Vision. The LEDs are in lines of alternating blue and red or green and red dots. Any given square of four LEDs on the display will have one blue, one green and two red lights. The arrangement allows the display's processor to share LED dots between different pixels, creating what the company calls dynamic pixels.

To create a high-definition effect on a display as large as the scoreboard, you need a lot of LEDs. The Dallas Cowboys scoreboard has 30 million LEDs [source: Grotticelli]. The density of LEDs allows the screens to display images at 1080p resolution -- the same resolution you'll find in high-end HDTVs at your local electronics store.