3D ProgramsGain Traction

Fans of nascent stereoscopic 3D TV technology got more good news last week, as several significant carriage deals were announced for early 3D programming.

The biggest was Comcast’s agreement to carry ESPN’s new stereoscopic 3D channel, ESPN 3D, which launches on June 11 with World Cup soccer coverage and will include nearly 100 events in its first year. In addition, Comcast and ESPN will provide customers with select ESPN 3D events on VOD.

While Comcast is the first cable operator to carry ESPN 3D, its deal should pave the way for further distribution. At the very least, the combined carriage of ESPN 3D by Comcast and satellite operator DirecTV, which agreed to carry it in late March, ensures that marquee 3D content can be shown at retail stores and other public venues across the country.

Telco Verizon announced it will carry YES Network’s 3D telecasts of two New York Yankees-Seattle Mariners games in July and make them available to FiOS TV customers in the New York area. The games were already being carried by DirecTV, which is sponsoring their production with set-maker Panasonic.

Also, Avail-TVN announced it will launch a suite of 3D programming services by year-end, including transactional 3D-VOD and a companion free on-demand 3D service. Avail-TVN, which provides both linear programming and VOD content to cable operators and telcos, also plans two linear 3D channels: a transactional PPV channel offering movies, concerts, events and sports; and a free-to-the-consumer promotional 3D channel with features, documentaries, music and specialty programming that will allow consumers to test their 3D sets and glasses.

Avail-TVN says its 3D services will work with operators’ existing infrastructure, and its 3D on-demand offerings will be compatible with existing set-top boxes after minor software updates.