May 12, 2010: Although most consumers do not yet own TV and/or the necessary equipment to view shows in 3D, the generation of 3D TV is fast approaching. The latest example is a deal between Comcast and ESPN under which the cable and Internet provider will carry the sports network's 3D offering, which is scheduled to launch June 11 to coincide with the beginning of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Philadelphia-base Comcast claims 23.5 million cable customers, 16.3 million high-speed Internet customers and 7.9 million Comcast Digital Voice customers.
Among the events schedule to air on ESPN 3D this year and into early 2011 are 25 matches during the 2010 World Cup, the Summer X Games 16 (July 28-Aug. 1), college football’s ACC Championship (Dec. 4), college basketball's Jimmy V Classic (Dec. 7), the 2011 BCS National Championship game (Jan. 10, 2011), the Winter X Games (Jan. 27-30, 2011) and college basketball’s Big East Tournament (March 8-12, 2011).
Sony was named the first official sponsor of the network earlier this year, with other sponsors expected to join. Sony has also signed a deal with Discovery Communications and IMAX to launch a 3D TV network by 2012. All of the major electronic companies have begun to sell and advertise TVs capable of receiving 3D signals.
DisplaySearch, a division of marketing and research firm NPD Group, Port Washington, NY, anticipates 1.2 million 3D-capable TVs will ship in 2010, with that number growing to 9 million in 2012 and 15.6 million in 2013. Growth is also dependent on companies such as Comcast signing on to broadcast 3D signals to their customers. Consumers without such TVs who wish to view 3D events would need to purchase adapters. All consumers would need to wear 3D glasses.
"As a leader in the distribution of innovative content, it's fitting that Comcast is the first cable distributor for ESPN 3D,” George Bodenheimer, co-chairman, Disney Media Networks, and president, ESPN and ABC Sports, said in a statement. "This agreement demonstrates ESPN's and Comcast's shared commitment to bring the latest viewing experience to sports fans."
According to Brian Roberts, chairman and CEO for Comcast Corp., “ESPN was a pioneer in HD, and continues to move the industry forward with the first 3D sports network. We delivered the first live national 3D sports event to consumers homes earlier this year with the Masters Tournament and believe that 3D sports will drive the adoption of this technology and continue to revolutionize how we deliver entertainment.”
The cost of a 3D TV and the cost of getting 3D content on their TV were concerns for more than 60% of consumers, and the possibility of having to pay more for 3D content from their cable provider was a drawback for 64% of consumers, according to Snapshot Report: 3D Television, a study released earlier this year from NPD Group.
The NPD 3D survey also found that the limited amount of content that will be available in the near future was sited as a concern by 39% of consumers. In addition, the inconvenience of wearing 3D glasses was sited as an inhibitor for 53% of consumers. NPD said 3D glasses would also add to the cost of viewing 3D content.
The major proponent of 3D has been Hollywood, with the recent or upcoming release of such movies as Avatar, Alice in Wonderland, Shrek Forever After, How to Train Your Dragon and Toy Story 3. A limited number of commercials have been made in 3D, including spots from Visa for the 2010 Winter Olympics. A growing number of vidoegames also are being released in 3D, including one from Ubisoft based on the Avatar movie and Escape the Lost Kingdom from Gogii Games,, which was unveiled last month.
Also growing is the number of companies producing or gearing up to unveil "designer" 3D glasses, including Look3D, an Australian-based firm seeking to upscale the standard plastic 3D glasses handed out at movie theaters (and paper 3D glasses given away with cereal boxes and books).