DirecTV To Launch 'N3D' Channel July 1

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DirecTV plans to launch what it's billing as the world's first 24-hour 3DTV channel, sponsored by Panasonic, on Thursday, July 1.

DirecTV and Panasonic representatives declined to identify specific programming that will be available on the N3D service before it launches.

Previously, the companies named several programming partners it was working with to supply content for N3D, including AEG/AEG Digital Media, CBS, Fox Sports/FSN, Golden Boy Promotions, HDNet, MTV, NBC Universal and Turner Broadcasting System.

DirecTV N3D

In an interview earlier this month, Steven Roberts, DirecTV's senior vice president of new media and business development, said the satellite operator will initially focus on making sure the primetime block -- 7 p.m. to midnight Eastern, to cover East and West coasts -- "is filled with content that people will want to watch on an ongoing basis."

All DirecTV customers with HD service are eligible to access N3D, on channel 103, although those with older H20 or HR20 receivers will need to upgrade to newer equipment. The satellite operator normally charges an additional $10 per month for HD service. Customers also must have a compatible 3DTV from Panasonic, Samsung, Sony or Mitsubishi along with accompanying 3D glasses to view the channel.

In addition to N3D, DirecTV expects to offer a 3DTV pay-per-view
channel and video-on-demand movies in 3D. The satellite operator also is carrying ESPN 3D, which is currently offering select World
Cup matches in 3D format.

For N3D, DirecTV has acquired some 3DTV content and has produced some original material, including concerts and other music, documentary-style art and dance programs, and some sports "that were not being produced in 3D," Roberts said.

"The content we'll be offering will be growing literally on a weekly basis," Roberts said. "We believe that people will be pleased with the range of the content and the quality of the content. Like any new channel, it's going to evolve."

DirecTV and Panasonic are hosting a launch event in New York City on July 1, where executives are scheduled to "officially" activate N3D at 9:30 a.m. Eastern.

Elsewhere on the 3DTV front, Discovery Communications, Sony and IMAX expect to debut a 24-hour 3D network early in 2011. Tom Cosgrove, who has been serving as executive vice president and COO for Discovery Channel, will lead the as-yet-unnamed 3D service as CEO.

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