By Barry Janoff
June 12, 2013: Citing a lack of viewer adaptation, but not acknowledging another major problem — lack of advertising — ESPN said it would shutter its three-year venture into 3D in favor of other high-tech programming options.
ESPN 3D launched in June 2010 with the FIFA World Cup, then went from limited programming to a 24/7 destination in early 2011. ESPN said it would continue to offer 3D programming through the end of 2013.
"ESPN 3D was great at home but due to low adoption of 3D to home, we are discontinuing to focus on other products for fans and affiliates," Katina Arnold, ESPN's vp-communications, wrote on her Twitter account. "ESPN 3D production [was] unmatched! As tech leader ESPN will continue to experiment with things like UHDTV."
Over the past two-plus years, ESPN 3D programming has included the NBA, soccer, college football and basketball and the Winter and Summer X Games.
Other than movie trailers, few brands and consumer categories produced 3D commercials or had 3D marketing campaigns.
Drawbacks to the progress of 3D cited by consumers in national surveys including having to purchase TVs with 3D capabilities or adding 3D equipment to their existing TVs and the necessity of having to wear 3D glass to watch events.
3D sports reached TV and theater viewers with unique, but sporadic success.
In 2009, Visa filmed some of its "Go World" spots supporting the 2010 Winter Olympics in 3D, which it ran at events in New York, San Francisco and Olympic host city Vancouver.
During Super Bowl XLIII in 2009, DreamWorks joined with PepsiCo's SoBe to run a 90-second 3D spot for the movie studio's then upcoming animated release, Monsters vs. Aliens. The next night, NBC, which aired the Super Bowl, ran an episode of Chuck in 3D.
ESPN had been testing 3D TV for about two years before its official launch. In September 2009, ESPN produced the USC vs. OSU college football game in 3D, which was shown on the USC campus and in theaters in Ohio, Texas and Connecticut. ESPN also has produced college football and basketball games in 3D for test purposes, and shot its 2009 Summer X-Games in 3D for theatrical release.
The NFL broadcast a San Diego Chargers-Oakland Raiders game in December 2008 in HD 3D, which was seen by select audiences in New York, Boston and Los Angeles. Fox and Sony in January 2009 broadcast the FedEx BCS National Championship college football game between Florida and Oklahoma at Dolphin Stadium [now Sun Life Stadium] to fans in some 80 3D-equipped theaters.
The NBA and Turner Sports aired in HD 3D a test broadcast to select theaters during the skills event on All-Star Saturday Night in Phoenix in 2009. An NBA game in March 2008 between the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs was shown in 3D at Dallas theaters under the auspices of Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban.