Comcast will kick off ESPN's 3D network with the start of next month's World Cup.
The nation's top distributor became the first cable operator to reach an affiliate pact to carry ESPN 3D and will begin offering the service to its digital cable customers on June 11, the day the FIFA 2010 World Cup starts with the host nation South Africa engaging Mexico.
Deal terms were not disclosed.
Comcast will join DirecTV in offering ESPN 3D, which is scheduled to offer 100 events during its rookie campaign. Sources indicate that Cablevision is also interested in signing up with ESPN when it launches its advanced service.
The addition of ESPN 3D marks a another step for Comcast with the technology. In April, Comcast offered 3D coverage of select holes from The Masters. The golf coverage was produced by ESPN and Pace and the feed was distributed by Comcast Media Center to a handful of distributors domestically and abroad. Comcast has also showcased five films shot in the format, offering the 3D movies on its on-demand platform.
ESPN 3D will feature up to 25 matches throughout the World Cup. Along with college football and NBA games, schedule highlights for the new network include: X Games 16, July 28-Aug. 1; college basketball's Old Spice Classic, Nov. 25-28; college football's ACC Championship on Dec. 4; the Jimmy V Classic on Dec. 7; the BCS national championship game Jan. 10, 2011; X Games 15, Jan. 27-30, 2011; and college hoops' Big East Tournament, March 8-12, 2011
"As a leader in the distribution of innovative content, it's fitting that Comcast is the first cable distributor for ESPN 3D," said George Bodenheimer, co-chairman, Disney Media Networks, and president, ESPN and ABC Sports, in a statement. "This agreement demonstrates ESPN's and Comcast's shared commitment to bring the latest viewing experience to sports fans."
Noted Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts: "ESPN was a pioneer in HD, and continues to move the industry forward with the first 3D sports networks. 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."