Comcast is the first cable company to say it will carry ESPN’s 3-D cable channel

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Comcast to carry ESPN’s 3-D cable channel

PHILADELPHIA — Comcast Corp., the nation’s largest cable TV provider, said Wednesday it will start carrying the ESPN 3-D cable channel in June.

That makes Comcast the first cable company to sign on. It also pits Comcast against satellite TV rival DirecTV Inc. in a race to offer more 3-D content. DirecTV’s chief executive, Michael White, said last week that DirecTV plans to offer the most 3-D programs to make it stand out.

In March, DirecTV became the first subscription TV provider to announce that it would carry ESPN 3-D, as well as three of its own 3-D channels. DirecTV also plans to air the first 3-D Major League Baseball game in July, between the New York Yankees and the Seattle Mariners.

But Comcast was first to air a live national sporting event in 3-D, last month’s Masters Golf Tournament.

ESPN’s 3-D channel will feature live sports, starting with the June 11 FIFA World Cup match that pits South Africa against Mexico. The channel will later have games from the NBA and college football and basketball.

The 3-D channel expects to air nearly 100 events in the first year. Comcast said it hasn’t yet decided whether to show them in pay-per-view or as part of its pricier digital cable TV package. Select 3-D events also will be made available on video on demand.

Viewers without 3-D television sets can watch the same games on ESPN in high definition.

Sporting events in 3-D could become the next big trend in television. But wide acceptance by viewers will depend on whether they’ll be willing to buy 3-D TV sets, which cost more than traditional sets and require special glasses.

ESPN and other programmers also have to provide more content in 3-D. The 3-D channel will be on only when there are events to air. There’s not enough content yet for a 24-hour network.

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