3DTV2010: ESPN 3D Readies June 11 Launch

ESPN said it's on target to launch the sports network's first 3D channel on June 11—the first day of the World Cup in South Africa—and its reception will be quite different from its HD launch seven years ago when it first debuted on some of the smallest cablers out there.

At this week's 3DTV2010 event in New York City, sponsored by various NewBay Media publications, ESPN Executive Vice President Sean Bratches said in sharp contrast to the small launch of it HD venues, its first 3D channel will be immediately accessible to the largest TV content provider in America, Comcast; and the largest DBS firm in the country, DirecTV, among others.

"We're very encouraged with the slate of affiliates we have going into the marketplace with ESPN 3D," Bratches told Mark Robichaux, editor-in-chief of sister publication Multichannel News. ESPN projects that by 2019, 3D penetration in the U.S. home will be less than HD sets (now at about 52 percent), but higher than DVR penetration.

"Being the first mass 3DTV programmer is important to the ESPN brand and to helping advertisers," Bratches said at a Q&A session, "particularly TV equipment makers like ESPN 3D partner Sony, [to] drive business opportunities."

NewBay Media publications serving as the event's co-sponsors included TV Technology, Broadcasting & Cable, TWICE and MCN, among others.