ESPN Pull Plug on 3D Sports

Cabler cites low adoption of 3DTV services for decision

ESPN will shut down its three-year-old 3D channel by the end of 2013, as the 3D television category has failed to achieve broad traction.

The cabler, majority owned by Walt Disney Co., will cease distribution of ESPN 3D “by year-end due to low adoption of 3D services to the home,” a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

ESPN has carriage deals for ESPN 3D with Comcast, DirecTV, Cablevision Systems, Cox Communications, Verizon FiOS, Bright House Networks and Google Fiber. Most of the operators charge an extra monthly fee for ESPN 3D. Disney also had pacts that included ESPN 3D with Charter Communications  and AT&T, which had dropped the network in 2011 after its debut year.

The shutdown of ESPN 3D is related to Disney’s recent operational review of the sports programmer, which resulted in ESPN eliminating nearly 400 jobs.

ESPN, which has a track record of being among early tech adopters in the industry, launched the 3D service in June 2010 with the World Cup.

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