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ESPN Executive: 3D Adoption Growing

18 May, 2011 By: Chris Tribbey

LOS ANGELES — When ESPN 3D launched in June 2010, Bryan Burns, VP of strategy business planning and development, said the network was seriously concerned about whether the station would flop.

With few 3DTVs in the market at launch, “we didn’t know if we would have any subscribers,” he said, speaking this week at the Display Week 2011 conference held by the Society of Information Display. “A small problem.”

Nearly a year later, thanks to carriage deals with DirecTV, Comcast, AT&T U-verse, Time Warner Cable and, mostly recently, Verizon FiOS, ESPN 3D has 65 million households that can subscribe to the channel — assuming they have 3DTVs, of course.

“What a difference a year makes,” he said. “All has fallen nicely into place.”

In a positive note for the 3D at home industry, Burns said adoption of ESPN 3D has far outpaced adoption of ESPN HD when it first launched in early 2003. The station celebrated its 104th 3D telecast March 17 with the broadcast of game one between the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Western Conference finals.

“Consumer replacement cycles [for TVs] are shrinking,” Burns noted, adding that research shows a year-over-year price $978 price drop in 3DTVs. He added that 14 months ago there were only 19 3DTV models, while there were more than 60 as of March. And with Blu-ray 3D discs being released at a quickening pace, content from both studios and broadcasters is giving consumers more incentive to make the 3DTV leap, he said.

“We’ve come a long way in a short time from Hannah Montana and anaglyph glasses,” Burns said.

While the production costs to shoot sports in 3D are expensive — ESPN uses two separate crews to shoot a 3D sporting event, one for regular broadcast, one for 3D — the network is seeing positive consumer feedback for both content and 3D advertising.

About the Author: Chris Tribbey

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