According to industry publication Broadcasting and Cable, ESPN’s plans
“will feature a minimum of 85 live sporting events in its first year, starting with the first 2010 FIFA World Cup match on June 11 featuring South Africa vs. Mexico. Other events to be produced in 3D include up to 25 2010 FIFA World Cup matches, Summer X Games, college basketball, and college football, which will include the BCS National Championship game in Glendale, Ariz., January 10, 2011.”
Although no announcements have been made regarding which cable or satellite companies will be offering the new network, ESPN’s move into the 3D space is a major milestone in the development of this still nascent technology for the home.
With the recent standardization of 3D content on the Blu-ray hi-def format, and TV manufacturers of all stripes promising 3D-capable HDTVs in 2010, the last major hurdle in the in-home 3D experience is broadcast content. ESPN’s move, while not necessarily an indicator of what all the networks will do, signals that broadcasters are ready to embrace 3D.
The question that remains however, is what will this new format cost the consumer?
We know why TV manufacturers are pushing 3D: they need to drive the demand for the next wave of purchases now that the penetration of HDTVs is close to hitting 50% in the U.S. But studies show that only 25% consumers are willing to pay more for 3D in the home. However 67% said they’d pay more for a 3D Blu-ray disc compared to the 2D version.
That’s good news for the movie industry, which already understands the value of 3D: they have been rewarded by their investment as box office receipts for movies like James Cameron’s Avatar clearly demonstrate – it raked in $1 billion worldwide in its first 17 days of theatrical release. If Hollywood can squeeze a second layer of revenue from their 3D titles in the form of 3D Blu-ray discs as they have always managed to do with VHS and then DVD, their costs will be further justified.
But what’s in it for broadcasters?
Perhaps they hope that a new offering of content in 3D will help stem the tide of viewers who are increasingly drawn to the net for their video needs. In an era of YouTube, the need to differentiate TV from web is critical, and the advent of HD hasn’t proven to be a big enough lure so far: according to DisplaySearch, only two thirds (67%) of people who own an HDTV subscribe to HD content from their provider.
Alternatively, 3D channels may only be available as pay-per-view or premium upgrades to existing cable/satellite.
If the broadcasters do start to get their 3D acts together, our friends over at TVGuide.ca have the following advice: 10 TV Shows We Want To See In 3D
Now the question for you, our readers: Where are you on the 3D @ home curve? Super-excited? Mildly interested? Couldn’t care less?