ESPN Gives World Cup a 3D Makeover

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ESPN launched its new 3D sports network Friday with coverage of World Cup soccer.

The network has always been a front runner in technology. However, it's still unclear if consumers will buy into having 3D at home.

Sony Crosses New Tech Horizon

Since television made its debut in black and white, then years later mesmerized viewers with full color, it's been full-steam ahead with projection, plasma, flat screens, HD, LCD, LED, and now the next big thing - 3D.

But will the technology catch on? Media giant Sony thinks so. The company has been introducing 3D products across the board.

"We're doing this across it across the entire corporation," said Stan Glasgow, Sony Electronic president and COO. "Every part of Sony is deeply involved and we're all together in making this successful."

The technology has already been a success at the box office thanks to movies like Avatar. Now other media industries are trying to cash in with the hope that viewers will want the same three-dimensional experience at home.

"I think we've learned starting with HD television that there are great way of doing it and not so great way of doing it. And 3D is even more complex as a medium, so I think we are trying to encourage everybody by leadership that it has to be done the right way."

Risky Business?

ESPN has crafted a game plan to get audiences demanding 3D at home by launching an all-3D network and kicking it off with broadcasts of the World Cup.

However, network executives have admitted the multi-million dollar investment is risky.

"This is very much like when we went to high definition television seven years ago, the country really hadn't gone yet," ESPN spokesman Bryan Burns said. "We made the decision to go, and in retrospect, it was really the right thing for us to do because sports fans now don't want to watch sports in SD anymore. Whether the same will be true of 3D, only time will tell."

The technology is expected to get a major push next year with roughly 30 3D films already in the works. Video games have also followed suite.

But in order to get the experience at home, consumers must have a 3D television - something that comes with a premium price tag.

Also, no matter if you're going to the theatre, watching TV, or playing a video game - if you want to see it in 3D - you're still going to need those glasses.

"When we did the USC Ohio State football game last fall, we did some research around that game, and people basically said, 'I don't like the glasses.' 'But once they watched the game they said 'Oh well, it wasn't a problem,'" Burns said.

It's still unclear whether those 3D glasses will soon become a staple in homes across America. But one thing has become clear: big media companies are banking on it.

*Originally broadcast on June 11, 2010.

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