Today, both ESPN and Discovery announced that they will begin offering programming in 3D as soon as this summer. As part of a ramp-up to this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, it seems as though the broadcast industry has decided that 3D will be this year’s big push.
ESPN 3D Coming in June!
ESPN’s 3-D venture, called ESPN3D, is technically the world’s first 3-D network, as it was announced before Discovery’s network. The network will launch on June 11 with the first 2010 FIFA World Cup soccer match as South Africa takes on Mexico. Additional programming will include more than 85 live 3-D events throughout the network’s first year of service.
ESPN 3D will also include up to 25 2010 FIFA World Cup matches, coverage of the Summer X Games, and college basketball. College football in 3-D will dominate the fall, and even the BCS National Championship will be broadcast in 3-D on January, 10, 2011. Sony will be the exclusive sponsor of the new station, and is currently working with the PGA Tour to produce golf programming in 3D later this year.
The network’s launch comes after ESPN has spent years testing technology. Most recently, it tested the 3D equipment during the USC vs. OSU college football game, broadcasting the game to theaters around the nation. According to ESPN, 3D is the future of sports programming.
Discovery Plans Launch of 3D Channel with Sony, IMAX
Adding to the 3D excitement, Discovery is planning to launch a 3D network in partnership with Sony Pictures and IMAX at some time in 2011. According to sources, the three companies will have an equal stake in the network. The channel will be the first 24/7 3D channel available when it premieres.
Content on the new channel is expected to include IMAX and Sony films in 3D, as well as selected Discovery specials and shows in 3D. Further information is expected to be announced at CES later this week.
No Carriers Announced Yet
As of now, neither channel has announced who will carry it. Cable and satellite companies are rumored to be adding capacity in order to carry 3D channels in the near future. Additionally, 3D capable televisions are expected to dominate the offerings at CES this year, with every major television manufacture likely to introduce their 3D lines this week.
Whether 3D is truly the future of programming remains to be seen. At this time, most HDTVs are not ready to receive 3D signals. Most consumers will have to replace or upgrade their current set-ups which may function perfectly otherwise. 3D will bring a lot of excitement over the next year, but it seems as though it will also bring some pretty hefty expenses for those who chose to adopt it.
Slow Roll Out of Technology Expected at First
Analysts currently expect that only about 5 million households will adopt the technology within the next 24-36 months. The hope is that another 20 million homes will adopt the technology sometime thereafter. Some envision that the mass rollout of the 3D technology will as many as 10 years.
The Consumer Electronics Association has estimated that 2.2 million 3DTVs will be sold in 2010, with 25% of all TVs sold in 2013 being 3DTVs. As a result, programming will most likely also be slowly rolled out. Manufacturers, including Sony, debuted a number of new 3DTV lines this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. While pricing was not immediately available for some models, it appears as though 3DTV technology will not increase prices too much. Unfortunately, it does not appear as though current sets will be able to be upgraded to include 3DTV technology.