In a move to enhance the viewing experience for people at home, the sports empire will launch ESPN 3D on June 11. According to ESPN.com, the channel will broadcast a minimum of 85 live sporting events during its first year. And the first event will be a big one; the first 2010 FIFA World Cup match with the host country South Africa taking on Mexico.
As the channel matures, more sports will be added into the mix, including college football, including the 2011 BCS National Championship, basketball, and the Summer X Games.
The technology has been in development for over two years and has been tested in theaters for events such as football.
"ESPN's commitment to 3-D is a win for fans and our business partners," ESPN president George Bodenheimer said in a statement. "ESPN 3D marries great content with new technology to enhance the fan's viewing experience and puts ESPN at the forefront of the next big advance for TV viewing."
As the recent success of 3D movies such as “Avatar” have shown, there is a market out there for people who want to have a greater interaction with what they are watching. 3D technology is believed to be the next step for home broadcasting, after HDTV and Blu-ray. But this technology and the upcoming channel will have to face some challenges.
-In the first months, ESPN 3D will not have replays of sporting events. So when there is no 3D event, the channel will be dark.
- A second production crew and will be needed, raising costs for the broadcaster. Part of the problem is that the 3D program will not come from the same place as the normal broadcast. Different cameras and almost all separate equipment must be used.
-Also, viewers may need an even more expensive 3D-capable television. The cost for a new 3D television is estimated to be more than $2,000. Outside of first adopters who normally purchase the newest technology, most may not be able to afford or want to pay such a cost, especially after having just spent major cast on a new HDTV. At the very least, consumers will need to purchase a set-top box to watch 3D programming. Digital transition, round two?
-There will also likely be an added cost on the cable bill who receive ESPN 3D and other 3D programming, such as is what’s happens now with HD programming.
-You will need those fun 3D glasses to complete the effect. There is testing underway for 3D without the glasses, but that is years away, if ever capable of being achieved.
Even with all the problems to be fixed, 3D programming seems to be a something that will happen. And lucrative. “Avatar” has made over $1 billion worldwide in only a few weeks. Discovery Communications (Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, etc.) has announced that it will enter the 3D programming market in 2011. There are also rumors that satellite giant DirecTV is planning a channel.
So the television landscape is changing. Again. Stay tuned.