ESPN is taking stock in Executive Vice President of Technology Chuck Pagano’s “gut feeling” that live 3-D HD broadcasts will drive market success and keep the sports giant ahead of the curve.
In January, the broadcaster announced that it would launch the ESPN 3D channel, showcasing a minimum of 85 live sporting events during its first year, beginning with the first 2010 FIFA World Cup match June 11.
The 3-D TV market also represents an exciting new area for satellite players. Bandwidth requirements are likely to surge as a result, and a number of operators are preparing to play a part. SES World Skies recently announced that it would be conducting 3-D TV tests to help accelerate the delivery of 3-D TV and work with players like ESPN as well as others to create a solid ecosystem for 3-D TV.
In an interview with Via Satellite, Pagano discussed the company’s launch strategy and why he believes the consumer market will be “captivated” by the new technology.
Via Satellite: How are you planning to launch 3-D TV services?
Pagano: Our plans for 3-D were motivated by wanting to serve our sports fans. They have a very high index of adapting to new technologies faster than normal viewers. We made a decision based on our belief that people will be buying 3-D TV sets and there were around 100 different 3-D TV models shown at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) this year. Our first-year strategy is doing 85 events, rather than a channel, on our own 3-D network. The events will be sent to cable, satellite and telco distributors, with which we are in active discussions with on this project.
Via Satellite: How important is it for ESPN to be a leader in 3-D TV?
Pagano: I and a number of my colleagues believe this is going to be a very important space for ESPN. We think live events will play a key role for 3-D TV. It is a new way of telling the story and reaching audiences that are intrigued by this new way of watching a story unfold. These TV sets are going to be there. This 3-D push from the consumer electronics world is a function of what manufacturers can produce at higher frame rates. They will be in all TVs in three years, regardless of whether you want it or not. There will be a natural evolution of people playing in the 3-D TV space. There are going to be 3-D personal video cameras, so people will be experimenting here from a personal perspective.
Via Satellite: How quickly will 3-D TV be adopted by consumers in the United States?
Pagano: I think there is a unique parallel here. The movie space is already delivering 3-D movies. A lot of studios, such as Disney, are committing to 3-D movies. You can look at the success of the movie “Avatar” as an example. That movie increased the interest of people. We are not pushing 3-D. We are making it available to people who would like to go there. It is no different when the iPhone was launched three years ago or when HD started becoming mainstream. We knew there would be a platform that people would gravitate to. We knew HD would play an important role for our fans and customers desire for media, so we had to have content for it.