DBS firm DirecTV is apparently the first major TV content provider to signal a go-ahead for ESPN's planned 3D channel, which is due to sign on later this spring. The new ESPN entry will be in addition to three other planned 3D channels that DirecTV plans to premiere in June.
The ESPN-branded sports franchise owned by the Walt Disney Co. announced earlier plans to set up its own dedicated 3D channel that will not launch as a 24/7 operation — at least not to begin with. But ESPN HD has already announced plans to air about 85 sports telecast in stereoscopic 3D in the new venue's first year of operation.
When ESPN 3D is not carrying any live events, it will go dark, according to sister publication Multichannel News.
DirecTV HD customers must subscribe to ESPN (which is usually bundled with other packages) to receive the new ESPN 3D outlet without any additional fees.
Among a trio of other initial 3D channels on the DirecTV's EPG will be the N3D channel — that will include 3D content from a wide array of providers such as CBS, Fox Sports, HDNet, MTV, NBC Universal and TBS. In its first year, this channel will be sponsored solely by Panasonic, which will be in the process of shipping some of its early 3D HD units to dealers. (The other two planned 3D channels from DirecTV include PPV movies and events channels.)
ESPN 3D's premiere telecasts will include all 25 World Cup soccer matches from South Africa, beginning in early June.