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3D Olympics channel available to 80 percent of households

AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Cox Communications, DirecTV, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon Fios are among the providers to carry the dedicated 3D channel.

Swimming will be one of the events presented in 3D.
Stephen Dunn

After the 2010 World Cup, major sporting events broadcast in 3D have been few and far between. NBC and Panasonic aim to change that by offering a new dedicated channel delivering a massive 242 hours of coverage in the third dimension.

More important, chances are you'll actually have access to it. NBC says the channel will be available to nearly 80 percent of U.S. households, which includes nearly every major cable provider as well as Verizon's Fios TV and satellite provider DirecTV. Notable absentee from the list so far is Dish Network.

Of course, to view the channel you'll also need a 3D-compatible television and enough compatible glasses for every viewer. You probably won't need a new high-def set-top box, however; most such boxes will be compatible with the lower-resolution, side-by-side 3D format used for current 3D TV broadcasts.

Even if you have all of that equipment, some of the thrill may still go missing. That's because the 3D events will be presented on a next-day delay from the 2D broadcasts.

Not every event presented in 2D on NBC's various channels, let alone the full onslaught of Olympics coverage found online, will be available in 3D. NBC, in partnership with producer Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) and sponsor Panasonic, will present the opening and closing ceremonies, gymnastics, swimming, diving, cycling from the velodrome, and "Full coverage of track & field from the Olympic Stadium." Twelve hours of "U.S.-oriented 3D programming per day" is promised.

Check your TV provider for the 3D channel number, and check out CNET's 3D TV Buying Guide for general information on 3D TVs.