3D Super Bowl? Not Yet

5:02 PM PST 02/04/2011 by Carolyn Giardina

As the buzz surrounding 3D continues, sporting events such as last summer's FIFA World Cup and the 2010 Masters golf tournament have received the 3D treatment. But the most anticipated sporting event in the U.S. -- the Super Bowl -- will remain in 2D this year.

Given all the talk about 3D, this might seem surprising, but for many in the broadcast community, it's not.

"Unfortunately, given current levels of adoption, there is no business model that makes sense for producing a show as complex as the Super Bowl in 3D at this time," Lou D'Ermilio, senior vp of media relations at Fox Sports Net, told The Hollywood Reporter.

"3D requires an entirely separate production at significant expense without generating incremental revenue to offset the additional costs," he added. "We prefer to focus all our energy on doing the best HD production possible, which this year features more than 40 cameras, including four super slow motion (180 frames per sec) and two X-Mo (500 frames per second)."

This issue is not a new one. In 2008, David Hill, chairman and CEO of Fox Sports Television Group, addressed this very topic in a speech during which urged TV set manufacturers to subsidize 3D broadcast equipment purchases. "I can't see us making a move to 3D until a good fairy comes flying into my office with a check," he said.

In the U.S., ESPN3D is slated to being 24/7 3D broadcasting on Feb. 14. But in this instance, production has support from Sony, which is exclusive sponsor of ESPN3D in a deal that runs through June and the NBA Finals. A Sony exec told THR that Sony's sponsorship "probably" would continue after the current deal expires, though the details of such an extension are not yet known.

Meanwhile, 3net -- a 24/7 3D channel that is a joint venture between Discovery, Imax and Sony -- is expected to launch early this year.

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