DirecTV Jumps at ESPN 3D

DirecTV, looking to establish early
leadership in the nascent 3DTV space, bragged that
it was the first distributor to announce a deal to carry
ESPN 3D, alongside the June launch of the satellite-TV
operator’s three dedicated 3D channels.

But DirecTV most likely won’t have the field all to itself.
Cablevision Systems also will carry ESPN 3D when it
debuts, according to an industry source. Cablevision declined
to comment; ESPN said only that “we continue to
have discussions with all distributors.”

DirecTV HD customers
will have access to ESPN’s
entire 3D programming lineup,
which is promised to include
at least 85 live sporting
events in the first year. The
service is set to include up
to 25 2010 FIFA World Cup
matches, beginning June 11
with the first match, South
Africa vs. Mexico.
Other events to be produced
in 3D by ESPN include
X Games 16, the 2010 Atlantic
Coast Conference college-
football championship
game, the 2011 BCS National
Championship game, college basketball and NBA games
in 2011.

DirecTV HD customers who subscribe to ESPN will
receive ESPN 3D at no additional cost. At least initially,
when ESPN 3D is not carrying any live events, it will go
dark, according to the programmer’s executives.

Also in June, DirecTV will launch a linear 3D channel
dubbed “N3D.” That will include programming from partners
AEG/AEG Digital Media, CBS, Fox Sports/FSN, Golden
Boy Promotions, HDNet, MTV, NBC Universal and Turner
Broadcasting System. Th e N3D channel will be exclusively
sponsored by Panasonic for the first year. DirecTV’s two other
dedicated 3D channels will be a 24/7 pay-per-view channel
and an on-demand movie channel.

By June, DirecTV said, its HD customers will receive
a free software upgrade enabling them to have access to
the 3D channels. Customers will need a 3D television set
and 3D glasses to view the programming.