3D TV Network Venture CEO Tom Cosgrove Wants to Build Big Content Library

He says interest from advertisers and distributors is strong, but programming is the main gap the industry needs to fill.

NEW YORK -- The still-unnamed 3D TV network joint venture of Sony Corp., Discovery Communications and Imax, which is set to launch early next year, plans to build up the biggest 3D content library in the world, president and CEO Tom Cosgrove said Tuesday.

Appearing at the Piper Jaffray Technology, Media & Telecommunications Conference, he also discussed what he called surprisingly strong advertiser interest, predicted that TV distributors may down the line introduce a 3D tier and forecast that it will take years until 3D technology will work without glasses.

Discussing content strategy and needs, Cosgrove said his team is planning to have several hundreds of hours of content available next year.

Much of that is being commissioned or co-produced, but also acquired from third parties or contributed by the three partners. The network recently made its initial programming announcement.

Movies will play a smaller role than other type of content on the network, he said. Cosgrove also highlighted that there isn't much great 3D content available right now, but quality is key. "If it's not great, it's god-awful," and the network will focus on high quality programs, he emphasized.

Cosgrove said his team wants to use 3D to get people more immersed in a story, and he predicted that this approach would over time lead to dramas and comedies also being produced in 3D.

And he said he would love to see news stories from far-away war and conflict zones, such as Afghanistan, in 3D to draw people in.

Asked about interest in the planned channel from marketers, Cosgrove said "there has been a lot of interest from advertisers," so much so that he felt it was "somewhat surprising."

His explanation: "I think they just want to be part of the cutting edge." Not only do marketers realize that they can showcase products in new ways in 3D, but they can also reach an appealing early adopter audience, he argued.

The network venture is talking to all distribution companies about carriage deals as all major cable and satellite TV players are looking to enhance their offers to consumers. Cosgrove said he expects "this will be a value-added proposition" in the early days and then go to a 3D tier once more 3D channels become available.

But he told investors not to expect that TV viewers will be able to watch without glasses any time soon. "Glasses-free is probably quite a few years off," he said. "We're in a glasses world for a while."

But Cosgrove said early adopters in the next year or two won't mind that at all.

Instead of the glasses, the main issue that has consumers on the fence about 3D TV so far is a lack of broad availability of content, he argued. "That's the big gap that has to be filled," Cosgrove said.

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