First dedicated 3D networks coming to TV

A joint venture between Discovery, Sony, and Imax will bring 3D to your home in 2011. And a new network from ESPN will deliver the technology later this year.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read
A viewer watching a 3D display at CES 2009. Marguerite Reardon/CNET

A new television network featuring 24-7 three-dimensional content will be coming to your home in 2011. The venture is backed by Discovery Communications, owners of the Discovery Channel and its family of networks, Sony, and Imax.

According to the companies, all three firms will hold equal share in the joint venture. The goal, the companies wrote in a joint release, is to drive "consumer adoption of 3D televisions" and become a "long term" leader in the 3D home marketplace. When it launches, the network will be available only in the United States, but the companies did say they would explore international opportunities in the future.

So far, the 3D network doesn't have a name. But when it launches, the companies said it will feature "content from genres that are most appealing in 3D, including natural history, space, exploration, adventure, engineering, science and technology, motion pictures and children's programming from Discovery, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Imax, and other third-party providers."

As you might expect, Discovery will oversee network services and television rights. Sony will handle advertising sales and work with the industry to license television rights "to current and future 3D feature films, music-related 3D content, and game-related 3D content." Although Sony didn't say so in the release, it's probably safe to assume that all 3D content related to Sony Pictures, Sony BMG, and Sony's game studios will make their way to the channel.

For its part, Imax will "license television rights to future 3D films, [engage in] promotion through its owned-and-operated movie theaters across the U.S., and [offer] a suite of proprietary and patented image enhancement and 3D technologies."

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Assuming that regulatory approval is secured, the network should go live in 2011.

But that's not all
ESPN will also be delivering the first 3D television network to the home in June this year, USA Today is reporting.

Dubbed ESPN 3D, the channel will deliver more than 85 live sporting events in three dimensions. It won't run reruns, so the channel will be dark when no current sporting event are being aired. The USA Today says ESPN 3D will broadcast the Summer X Games, NBA events, as well as college basketball and football games.

To access either of the new 3D networks, users will need a 3D-capable TV, as well as 3D glasses. In other words, the barriers to entry are a bit high, but it's a new technology that has some excited. Now we'll just have to wait and see if it can become a new standard in the marketplace.