DirecTV will become the first distributor to launch 3net, a joint venture from Sony, Discovery and IMAX, on Sunday. Then, on Monday, ESPN3D, which began offering limited 3D broadcasting in June, begins offering a full 24/7 schedule of 3D content.
For the consumer electronics industry, which has been pushing 3DTV as part of its vision of home entertainment’s future even though the available content has been limited, those two moves represent a significant step into the three-dimensional future.
“These are significant milestones for 3D,” said Rob Willox, director of 3D business development for Sony Electronics, which is also the corporate sponsor for ESPN3D. “I expect we'll see more 3D networks and specialty channels coming soon, which will only help to drive awareness and demand.”
DirecTV also carries n3D, a 3D channel launched with Panasonic in 2010.
While the weekend marks a big step in the domestic market, the 3D television drive has been global. Sky3D in the UK launched last spring and was one of the earliest 3D channels. Various other trials as well as channel launches have occurred around the world. Channels that have broadcast 3D include SkyPerfecTV in Japan, Sky 3D in Germany, and Orange 3D in France.
3net will go live at 8pm EST on Sunday with native 3D original programs China Revealed and Forgotten Planet, in addition to Into The Deep 3D.
3net aims to offer the world's largest 3D library by year's end. Earlier this week, 3Ality Digital produced the 3D Creative Arts Award in stereo, for a planned two-hour 3net special.
ESPN3D's roapmap includes the NBA Finals.