DirecTV: We'll Probably Charge for 3D at Some Point


DirecTV now offers a triple play of 3D networks — 3net, ESPN 3D and its own n3D — at no extra charge to customers who have HD. The DBS provider does charge an extra $10 monthly fee for HD service access but waives this for new customers.

Last week I asked Derek Chang, DirecTV’s executive vice president of content strategy and development, why the satellite company isn’t charging extra for 3D.

“That’s something that is under consideration. In the future that is likely something we will do,” he said, adding, “We decided that at first there wasn’t enough content. Now there’s starting to be, but at first you want to whet the appetite of customers. The content is going to cost money and eventually you have to charge the customer for that.”

Today, the size of the 3D viewing audience is a rounding error: DirecTV isn’t providing specifics but says “tens of thousands” of its 19 million subs are capable of watching 3DTV.

But packaging and positioning are key even at this early stage of the game as operators fight for high-end customers and portray themselves as cutting-edge.

Comcast is going straight after DirecTV, with the launch Sunday of Xfinity 3D (see Comcast To Launch 24-Hour ‘Xfinity 3D’ Channel). For now Comcast throws in the 3D stuff gratis, to match DirecTV.

But both Time Warner Cable and AT&T U-verse — which for now offer only ESPN 3D and a smattering of 3D movies — tack on an extra $10 (see TWC’s Price Tag For ESPN 3D: $10 Extra Per Month). That’s kind of a poor value, to my mind, but maybe those guys just don’t want to be accused of a bait-and-switch later.

It seems that even if you’re getting a free taste of 3D today, at some point it will be rolled into the bill.

Look for the full Q&A with DirecTV’s Chang on 3DTV in next week’s issue of Multichannel News.


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