Verizon's FiOS TV is set launch ESPN 3D on April 5, ahead of the Masters golf tournament and the National Basketball Association playoffs, although still relatively few sports fans have the requisite 3D gear to watch it.
With the addition of Verizon, ESPN 3D is available to some 62.5 million U.S. households through carriage agreements with Comcast, DirecTV, Time Warner Cable and AT&T U-verse TV. However, the number of households with 3D-enabled TV sets that can render the three-dimensional programming is somewhere around 1 million.
ESPN 3D will be included at no extra charge for FiOS TV customers who subscribe to the top-tier Ultimate HD package, and is also available separately for an additional $9.99 per month.
Verizon reached the agreement to carry ESPN 3D last fall, as part of a broader carriage deal with ESPN Media Networks.
ESPN 3D, which launched in June 2010, is on track to feature nearly 100 events in its first year. The network converted to a 24-hour channel Feb. 14, airing replays of 3D programming in addition to live events.
Other 3D networks include 3net, from Discovery Communications, Sony and IMAX; DirecTV's n3D, a 24-hour network sponsored by Panasonic; and Comcast's Xfinity 3D.
"The launch of ESPN 3D on FiOS TV marks an exciting addition for our customers, giving them 24/7 access to 3D programming for the first time," Verizon vice president of content strategy and acquisition Terry Denson said in a statement.
Separately, Verizon also now has a trio of 3D video on demand movies from Starz, available to subscribers of the premium service: Alice In Wonderland, G-Force and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. In January, FiOS TV added 3D programming from HBO, including Clash of the Titans and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, and offers a small selection of other 3D movies available for rental on demand, including Bolt and Megamind.
To view 3D programming, FiOS TV customers must have a 3D television set (plus the required 3D glasses) and an HD set-top box.
ESPN 3D upcoming events include the Masters golf tournament April 6-10 and six NBA postseason games starting Saturday, April 16. The network featured the college football Bowl Championship Series in January, as well as the Big East men's basketball championship and other college football, college basketball, Winter and Summer X Games, and the 2010 World Cup.
A programming schedule for ESPN 3D is available at http://espn.go.com/3d/schedule.html.