Despite having thoroughly enjoyed How to Train Your Dragon
in 3D, despite the heavy focus on 3D at last month's The Cable Show, and despite the emergence of 3D televisions in retail stores nationwide, I've always felt the 3D movement
might not make it past the big screen.
It's not a question of cost - 3D televisions
will come down from their current prices, which range from about $2k to more than $6k. It's not even a question of having to wear the goofy glasses, because they are already available in a variety of styles that mimic traditional eyewear in design and comfort.
More so, I've wondered how much content consumers would be willing to endure in 3D. While I have enjoyed it in the theaters, I also have found it to be more strenuous to watch.
Back in March at CTIA
, Avatar director James Cameron noted, however, that you can't fight technology. And in this case, he might be right, especially when you consider the global impact of the sports world, which is the early target for 3D programming.
It's certainly no surprise that ESPN has chosen the World Cup to launch its 3D channel - this is the biggest event
for the world's most popular sport. The network will show 25 World Cup matches, including the championship match, as well as the MLB Home Run Derby, the BCS National Championship game, and Big East men's basketball tournament, among other events. In total, it says its current plans are to air more than 80 3D events in its inaugural year.
As for the World Cup and how big of an impact it might have on the 3D industry in the U.S., currently, DirecTV, Comcast
, and AT&T U-verse
have signed on. U-verse perhaps in an attempt to combat perceptions that its service was launched prematurely
and without enough capacity for many residences, though it is the only one of the three charging an additional fee for the service. Cogeco Cable
in Canada is also showing the consolation and championship matches in 3D top its subscribers at no cost.
I'm still not convinced the market is ready, and ESPN's timing, while spot on with the World Cup, will suffer from a lack of uptake of 3D televisions due to cost and limited time on the market to date.
Ultimately, Cameron is likely right, "the stuff is coming, start thinking about 3D apps," but I also think his initial assessment of real market impact in three to five years is likely closer to the truth.
Still, ESPN doesn't follow other networks, and if there is a network and an industry that can drive 3D, it's these, and I'm hoping to find somewhere to watch at least one match in 3D sometime between today and July 11.