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Battle of the 3D Titans

The number of 3DTV sets in U.S. homes is
barely a blip at somewhere around 1 million, but the two
biggest pay TV providers — Comcast and DirecTV — are
slugging it out for bragging
rights on the new frontier.

Comcast , look ing to
keep pace with DirecTV,
launched Xfinity 3D, a 24-
hour channel that will feature
concerts, sporting
events, movies and original programming. The cable
company also announced that it has served more
than 1 million views of 3D video-on-demand content
since providing the Masters Golf Tournament in the
format in April 2010, a point intended to highlight
the advantage of cable’s VOD architecture.

Comcast and DirecTV both currently carry ESPN 3D,
which converted to a 24-hour channel on Feb. 14 after
launching last year as an event-based service. The MSO
does not offer 3net, a linear 3D channel owned by Discovery
Communications, Sony
and IMAX that launched on Sunday,
Feb. 13, with DirecTV.

Essentially, Xfinity 3D is a response
to DirecTV’s own n3D, a
linear channel with a mix of music,
nature and sports programs
that the satellite-TV operator launched in July 2010.

The Comcast network was set to bow on the ice: Xfinity
3D was scheduled to go live at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb.
20, with the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic, an
outdoor matchup between the Montreal Canadiens and
Calgary Flames at McMahon Stadium in Calgary. That
was to be followed by an MTV World Stage concert by
Kings of Leon in Hamburg, Germany.

“Whether it is a concert, sporting event or movie, Xfinity
3D brings the best seats in the house right to customers’
living rooms,” Comcast senior vice president and
general manager of video services Marcien Jenckes said
in a statement.

In addition, Comcast said, Xfinity 3D will carry documentaries
about African safaris, haunted castles, the
surface of the sun and dinosaurs, among other subjects,
along with original programming about Chinese dragon
dancing and rhythmic gymnastics.

Last month, Comcast launched HBO 3D On Demand
providing customers access to movies such as Ice Age:
Dawn of the Dinosaurs
, Monsters vs. Aliens and Coraline.
Other 3D titles that have been available through the
Comcast VOD service include Bolt, Clash of the Titans,
Despicable Me, Chicken Little and The Last Airbender.

Currently, like DirecTV, Comcast provides 3D programming
to any customer on an HD tier for no additional
charge (with the exception of transactional VOD).