Last year we saw a significant increase in the number of 3D movies released in theaters and now that immersive technology in migrating to smaller screens. Chomping on the heels of Cameron's Avatar billion dollar box office success story, ESPN and Discovery announce their getting into the game.
ESPN reported today they are launching the industry's first 3D network. According to the statement, ESPN 3D will air over 85 sporting events in its first year starting with the FIFA World Cup on June 11. Other sporting events scheduled for the fledgling network include the BCS championship game, the Summer X Games and a series of college (not pro) basketball and football games (to be determined.)
ABC Sports president George Bodenheimer thinks this is an idea who's time has come:
ESPN's commitment to 3-D is a win for fans and our business partners. 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.
ESPN has been tinkering with 3D sport broadcast for two years now. Last year, they aired the San Diego Chargers-Los Angeles Raiders game in select theaters, inviting the sports press to evaluate the experience. In January ESPN broadcasted the BCS college-football championship game to paying customers in over 80 3D-equipped theaters. Last February, Turner Sports partnered with the NBA to broadcast the live All-Star Saturday skills competition in 3D.
Discovery announced today that they have partnered with IMAX and Sony to create a new 3D entertainment network. Discovery 3D is slated to launch in 2011 and will feature a mix of sports, entertainment and natural history programming.
All of these announcements coincide with the annual International Consumer Electrionics Showcase which starts Thursday, Jan. 7 in Las Vegas. According to the official CES website over 50 exhibitors including Sony, Hyundai and Panasonic will be promoting showcasing new 3D technologies for the home. You can follow all the announcements and antics from CES on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube starting Thursday afternoon.