Walt Disney Co.â€™s ESPN and Discovery Communications Inc. plan to start 3-D television networks, following the success of 3-D films such as â€œAvatar.â€
ESPN 3-D will start in June and broadcast 85 live events in the first year, the Bristol, Connecticut-based sports network said today in a statement. Discovery, Sony Corp. and Imax Corp. announced a joint venture today to introduce a 3-D channel in 2011.
Television programmers and TV-set makers are increasing 3-D offerings after U.S. box-office sales set a record last year, boosted by films including â€œAvatar.â€ Sony and Samsung Electronics Co. have agreed to license technology from RealD, a Beverly Hills, California-based maker of 3-D equipment for cinemas, for new home-entertainment systems.
â€œThis gestating technology at least stands a fighting chance of mainstream acceptance,â€ Tuna Amobi, an analyst with Standard & Poorâ€™s in New York, said in an e-mail. â€œA particularly momentous 2009 for 3-D movies has created further consumer awareness of the technology.â€
Discoveryâ€™s joint venture, which doesnâ€™t have a name yet, will air 3-D shows 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the U.S., according to the statement. Discovery, based in Silver Spring, Maryland, Sony and Imax will own equal stakes in the channel, the companies said. Financial Terms werenâ€™t disclosed.
Discovery, operator of the TLC and Animal Planet networks, will distribute the new channel, which will show movies and programs about natural history, space and science.