CES 2010: ESPN Lands Sony Sponsorship For New 3D Net

Sony will be an official sponsor of ESPN's forthcoming 3D network -- set to launch this June -- as the electronics company looks to give consumers a reason to buy its brand-new 3DTV sets.

In addition, Sony will be the exclusive 3D sponsor of the 2011 BCS National Championship Game, set for Jan. 10, 2011, as well as 13 regular-season college football games and ESPN's Summer X Games, where ESPN will use Sony's professional HD cameras. The companies made the announcement at Sony's annual press conference on Wednesday here at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show.

ESPN 3D will feature at least 85 events in its first year of operations, according to the programmer, and will go dark when there aren't in live events. ESPN is still in the midst of procuring a 3D production truck and other facilities.

"ESPN and Sony have a long history together, and we share a passion for innovation and bringing customers cutting-edge products and content, which this union demonstrates," ESPN executive vice president of sales and marketing Sean Bratches said. "The launch of ESPN 3D is a great way to offer our advertisers unique marketing opportunities, and due to Sony's continued leadership with 3D technology, this collaboration made perfect sense."

It's been a noisy week for 3D television. Separately, Sony is teaming up with Discovery Communications and IMAX to launch a 3D network of their own, slated for 2011.

Meanwhile, DirecTV said Wednesday it will debut three 3D channels -- a pay-per-view channel, a video-on-demand service and a free "sampler" channel -- this June, with Panasonic as the exclusive sponsor for one year.

Also today, Sony launched a line of 3D Full HD 1080p Bravia televisions. Sony's new 3D-capable Bravia LCD televisions for 2010 will include its first full HD 3D integrated TV, packaged with two pairs of active-shutter glasses as well as a built-in transmitter. Sony also will set 3DTVs with the glasses sold separately.

Sony also plans to introduce a Blu-ray 3D player and home-theater system, in addition to 3D VAIO PCs and 3D digital still cameras.