ESPN said today it planned to launch ESPN 3D, the first 3-D TV network, on June 11 beginning with the first 2010 FIFA World Cup soccer match, featuring South Africa vs. Mexico.
The worldwide sports leader said it planned to display at least 85 live 3-D events during the first year. They include
up to 25 2010 FIFA World Cup matches, Summer X Games, college basketball and college football, including the BCS National Championship game in Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 10, 2011.
The announcement made no mention of any carriage deals. Last week, DirecTV was rumored to have plans to launch a 3-D HD channel on its latest satellite, although DirecTV would not comment on a report that it planned to announce that plan during the upcoming International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Separately, The New York Times reported that Discovery Communications, Imax and Sony were planning to announce a joint venture to launch a 3-D TV channel in 2011.
"ESPN's commitment to 3D is a win for fans and our business partners," George Bodenheimer, co-chairman, Disney Media Networks, and president, ESPN and ABC Sports, said in a release. "ESPN 3D marries great content with new technology to enhance the fan's viewing experience and puts ESPN at the forefront of the next big advance for TV viewing."
"This will be a meaningful step to drive adoption of 3D television sets and afford opportunities for our affiliates to create value through new product offerings, and our advertisers, who want fresh sponsorship opportunities," Sean Bratches, executive vice president, sales and marketing, added in the release.
ESPN said it has been testing ESPN 3D for more than two years. Last fall, ESPN produced the USC vs. OSU college football game which was shown in select theaters as well as to 6,000 fans at the Galen Center on USC's campus.
ESPN said it has developed best practices for utilizing the technology in live game applications which have provided ESPN the ability to streamline workflow operations, adjust 3D camera positioning, test transmission and gauge fan reaction to a 3D telecast versus a traditional telecast.