The widespread availability of programme or movie content filmed specially made for 3D viewing is one of the last major blocking points to a potential explosion in the take up of 3D TV. All the signs are that this blocking point is about to be cleared, with the arrival of dedicated 3D TV networks and channels.
These 3D TV Networks will be operated by such well known names as ESPN, Comcast, Sky, and Verizon. You can see a full list to the right of this article.
By the end of 2010, it’s expected that viewers will have a choice of 3D content from up to 15 VOD channels, around a dozen network channels (cable or satellite TV), and a number of internet 3D channels.
For nearly 90 years, 3D viewing has been almost exclusively locked away in movie theaters. Every once in a while, a TV show might have a 3D episode as a special event, offering disposable 3D glasses at local convenience or electronics stores free with purchase. These major marketing events could usually drum up a bigger viewing audience, but they only lasted one night.
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The process for creating 3D, too, was often the now-outdated red and blue anaglyph conversion, which causes headaches over extended periods of time.
The success of new 3D films like Avatar, Clash of the Titans, and How to Train Your Dragon has reawakened the public’s appetite for 3D content, though.
Now audiences are clamoring for the same experience they get in theaters, but in the comfort of their own homes. Television manufacturers have heard their cries, and in response a bevy of 3D TV models were announced at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show. A lot of these models boast the ability to convert 2D content into 3D.
While this will provide a 3D experience, it doesn’t offer the same image clarity as content filmed specifically in 3D. To compensate for this, some TV manufacturers are forming partnerships with broadcast companies in order to launch new 3D TV networks, offering 3D content 24 hours a day.
Sony Corp. recently brokered a deal with IMAX and Discovery Communications, owner of the Discovery Channel and its networks, to launch a new, fully 3D network in 2011 or 2012. This new 3D network doesn’t have a name yet, but it will offer 3D content in some exciting areas, including space, exploration, adventure and natural history. The partnership also has stated content will not exclusively come from Sony, IMAX, or Discovery. Third-party 3D providers will also be able to participate.
Discovery Communications is set to handle the network services and rights, while Sony will manage advertising sales and content licensing. IMAX is on the deal to provide future 3D films, as well promote the network all its solely owned theaters across the nation. The company also will be providing its patented enhancement techniques and 3D technology for the production of ongoing 3D content.
The Discovery/Sony network won’t be the only option, either. ESPN has also announced the creation of ESPN 3D, set to launch as early as June 2010. This 3D TV network is dedicated to sports and plans are to show more than 85 live sporting events – including the World Cup plus some NBA and college basketball games – all in three dimensions. There won’t be any reruns, though, meaning that the network will go dark when there’s no live event available for broadcast. ESPN has already announced the broadcast of the Summer X Games, NBA events, and college football and basketball in 3D.
Access to these new 3D networks will only be available through 3D TV sets, so consumers will need to upgrade their televisions to see the content. But this is only the beginning. Many industry insiders believe that if ESPN 3D does well in the summer, it could lead to an ABC/Disney 3D TV network soon after. On the bright side, the technology will no longer require the color-distorting technique of red and blue anaglyph layers. Instead, viewers will be able to see all the 3D media in high definition, colour -correct splendor.
With two networks already announced, and surely more on the way, the switch to 3D content at home has taken its first steps. In the past, 3D content was limited to a gimmick. Now that big TV content like sporting events and movies will soon be available in three dimensions, this new media wave is gearing up to sweep the television broadcast industry.
Undoubtedly once the content is more readily available, the sale of 3D TV sets will rise, possibly leading to a whole new creative explosion in television.
3D TV networks:
Sky 3D – planning to go live with Europe’s first dedicated 3D TV channel later in 2010.