Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Interesting announcement this week that ESPN is going to create an all-3D channel to begin in the summer. Perhaps encouraged by the success of sports programming in HD, ESPN figured an even better picture would attract even more fans.

But a 3D channel will require consumers to get special (and expensive) new receiving sets, some of which could cost upwards of $4,000. And don't forget the stylish glasses you'll need to make the effect work.

In many ways, 3D is at the same place HDTV was several years ago--the promise of a better picture that will mean lots of expense for both content producers and audiences. But unlike HDTV, 3D does not have the weight of government mandate behind it. The FCC is not forcing broadcasters and consumers to switch over to 3D programming. More importantly, 3D has failed to gain much traction in the media world throughout its history, proving to be little more than an interesting novelty that is often not worth the hassle. Master salesman Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, couldn't even give it away for free. The Cowboys recently experimented with 3D on the monstrous scoreboard at their new stadium with poor results.

Whether or not a 3D sports channel has staying power remains to be seen. ESPN certainly has the money to make a serious effort with this, but all signs suggest it may turn out to be another ESPN Mobile--a good idea on paper, but not in America's living rooms.


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