ESPN and Discovery Communications unveiled seperate plans on Tuesday to launch 3-D television networks starting from this year's World Soccer Cup.
ESPN said that it would roll out its 3-D network in June and would air a minimum of 85 live sporting events during its first year. ESPN's first broadcast will be a World Cup soccer match between South Africa and Mexico.
Seperately, Discovery Communications, Sony and IMAX today announced at CES a joint venture to be established to develop a 24/7 dedicated 3D television network in the U.S. The joint venture intends to launch the network beginning in the U.S.
ESPN will launch ESPN 3D - a 3D television network - it was announced today by George Bodenheimer, Co-chairman, Disney Media Networks, and President, ESPN and ABC Sports. ESPN 3D will showcase a minimum of 85 live sporting events during its first year, beginning with the first 2010 FIFA World Cup match on June 11 featuring South Africa vs. Mexico. Other events to be produced in 3D include up to 25 2010 FIFA World Cup matches, Summer X Games, college basketball, and college football, which will include the BCS National Championship game in Glendale, Ariz., January 10, 2011.
ESPN has been testing ESPN 3D for more than two years. Last fall, ESPN produced the USC vs. OSU college football game which was shown in select theaters as well as to 6,000 fans at the Galen Center on USC?s campus.
Discovery, Sony, through its U.S. affiliate, Sony Corporation of America, and IMAX each will be equal partners in the joint venture.
"It will be launched in the U.S., with a goal of driving consumer adoption of 3D televisions and giving the network long-term leadership in the 3D home marketplace," the companies said in a statement. In the future, the companies said that they would explore international distribution opportunities in selected markets.
"Discovery's business strategy has always focused on delivering groundbreaking content through new platforms, including the first suite of digital channels launched in 1996 and the first 24/7 basic cable HD channel in 2002," said Discovery Founder and Chairman John Hendricks. "Now, as Discovery celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2010 as the world leader in satisfying curiosity and bringing audiences the most realistic viewing experience, we continue to change the face of television with the launch of the first-ever 24/7 dedicated 3D television network."
Discovery's new 3D network will feature high-quality premium 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.
Discovery will provide network services, including affiliate sales and technical support functions, as well as 3D television rights to Discovery content and cross-promotion across its portfolio of 13 U.S. television networks. Sony will provide advertising/sponsorship sales support, and will seek to license television rights to current and future 3D feature films, music-related 3D content and game-related 3D content, while providing cross-promotion at retail stores. IMAX also will license television rights to future 3D films, promotion through its owned-and-operated movie theaters across the U.S., and a suite of proprietary and patented image enhancement and 3D technologies.
Governance for the joint venture will be handled by a board of directors comprised of members from each of the three companies.
Specific financial terms of the venture were not disclosed.