Tuesday, January 05, 2010

3D Comes to Cable

There were two announcements of new 3D cable networks at CES today. ESPN announced plans for a new 3D network, as did a joint venture among Discovery Communications, Sony and IMAX. ESPN's channel will launch this June and broadcast a minimum of 85 3D sporting events in its first year, the first one being a World Cup soccer match between South Africa and Mexico. The 24-hour Discovery/Sony/IMAX channel will launch next year and will feature programming from a variety of Discovery's channels.

It's far too early to tell whether these channels will turn out to be short-lived gimmicks or pioneers of a new generation of broadcasting. However, it's likely that other networks will follow suit, launching their own 3D services and putting additional demands for channels onto already crowded cable, satellite and IPTV systems. In turn, this will spur cable operators in particular to move even faster to Switched Digital Video and IP Video architectures.

As a practical matter, if you're in the market for a new HDTV display, you should probably go for one with at least a 120Hz refresh rate. There are no guarantees that it will work with 3D content, of course, unless the manufacturer says that it does.
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