Three years ago, ESPN vice president for technology Chuck Pagano said the network was preparing for a “3D tsunami” in the television industry as it prepared to launch its first channel dedicated to the technology.
Maybe he was wearing beer goggles at the time of that prediction.
Acting with due-diligence, a dedication to shareholders and probably some dread — how’s that for 3 “D”s? — the company said today it would stop broadcasting in 3D by the end of the year because viewership was not supporting the costs in producing the separate feeds as well as the lack of purchases for 3D capable sets that come with the need to wear special viewing glasses.
An ESPN statement said it was committing its 3D resources “to other products and services that will better serve fans and affiliates.” It also said it would continue to experiment more in Ultra High Definition production.
ESPN, with Sony as a primary sponsor, covered the 2010 World Cup from South Africa as its first 3D event, then did the MLB’s Home Run Derby from Angels Stadium in July, 2010 as its first major production in the U.S. The Summer X Games in L.A. also became an intensive 3D project, leading to a movie that appeared for a time in theaters. Most the 3D buzz at the time was created by the release of the movie “Avatar.”
At the time of ESPN’s 3D initial venture, the company said in a statement attributed to president George Bodenheimer: “ESPN’s commitment to 3D is a win for fans and our business partners. ESPN 3D marries great content with new technology to enhance the fan’s viewing experience and puts ESPN at the forefront of the next big advance for TV viewing.”
The Associated Press notes that only two percent of TVs in the U.S. are able to show 3D programming, based on data from research firm IHS Screen Digest. The wire service also cited that optometrists contend that as one in four viewers have problems watching 3D movies and TV because of eye strain or problems with depth perception.