Bratches: ESPN Plans Big 3D Events


New York — With
the Dallas Mavericks’
stirring overtime win
over the Oklahoma City
Thunder in the National
Basketball Association
playoffs on May 23,
ESPN 3D aired its 106th
live event.

And there’s plenty
more where that came
f rom, to hear Sean
Bratches, executive vice
president, sales and
marketing at ESPN.

Bratches, during his
keynote address at New-
Bay Media’s “Connected
TV and 3D” conference
at the Roosevelt Hotel
here May 24, painted a
mostly sanguine picture
of the format’s advance
to date and its potential
for growth during the
decade ahead. (New-
Bay Media is the parent
company of Multichannel

Bratches said ESPN
3D is currently available
to some 65 million
homes, well ahead
of where ESPN HD was
at a similar stage in its
growth cycle. Since
kicking off with the
2010 FIFA World Cup
last June, ESPN 3D has
now aired 106 events
in the format, baseball,
boxing, X Games, football
and basketball contests,
among them. He
also noted that ESPN
3D worked in conjunction
with Sky 3D to show
England’s FA Cup final,
won by Manchester City
over Stoke, on May 14.

Bratches promised
even more: the NBA
Finals, five boxing
matches, Major League
Baseball’s All-Star Game
in Phoenix, and a couple of soccer matches involving Real
Madrid versus Major League Soccer teams in the “World
Football Challenge” this July.

ESPN 3D’s own progress aside, Bratches noted that the
format was picking up momentum for a variety of reasons:
consumer awareness has advanced at double-digit
rate since 2010; the number of 3D sets to be sold in 2011
is expected to increase fivefold; price points are dropping
significantly; 33 3D theatrical releases are set for this year;
and international network rollouts — from Unity Media
in Germany, Canal Plus in France and Sky in the U.K. —
continue apace.

Pointing to estimates from Insight Media, Bratches said
there could be 100 3D channels globally by 2015. Still, he
said there were obstacles to surmount.

“Forty percent of consumers are confused by 3D technology,”
he said, adding that 70% indicate they have not
made the jump to the new platform because they’re “limited
by the amount of content.”