Sony, Samsung, Panasonic 3D TVs: So What's On?

Wondering what 3D content there is to watch? Here's your 3D programming guide for 2010.

If you're the early-adopter type who doesn't mind paying top dollar for the latest tech gear, 3D TV may tickle your buying bone. But once you've shelled out thousands of dollars for 3D-enabled hardware, such as a Panasonic, Sony, or Samsung 3D TV, a 3D-capable Blu-ray player, and two or more pairs of 3D glasse, well, what's on 3D TV anyway? Here's your 3D programming guide for 2010.

ESPNESPN in June will launch a 3D TV network that will show at least 85 sporting events this year. Its inaugural 3D show: the first 2010 FIFA World Cup match between Mexico and South Africa on June 11. The network says it has tested ESPN 3D for more than two years, and is optimistic that sports fans will cheer the new technology.

One question: Will soccer players be encouraged to gratuitously kick the ball at 3D cameras? The ten people watching in 3D will be thrilled!

ESPN will beef up its 3D programming schedule next year, adding the 2011 BCS National Championship Game, other college football and basketball contests, the Summer X Games, and up to 25 World Cup matches.

DiscoveryIt's a shame that "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin had an unfortunate run-in with a stingray back in 2006, because his high-energy outdoor antics would've been a natural for 3D. Then again, plenty of nature shows are a good match for the in-your-face realism of 3D, which is why Discovery Communications is teaming up with Sony and IMAX to launch a 24/7 3D television network.

The new channel will offer programming best suited to 3D, covering such topics as engineering, natural history, space, science, technology, and so on. Sony and IMAX will obtain television rights to 3D movies, which will air on Discovery's 3D network.

DirecTVStarting in June, DirecTV HD subscribers will get a free software upgrade that allows them to watch three 3D channels. One pay-per-view channel will show movies, documentaries and other fare. The second, 3D DIRECTV on Demand, will have sports, music, and other content. A third channel will have free 3D sampler demos. DirecTV is working with a number of big-name content providers, including CBS, Fox Sports, MTV, NBC Universal, and Turner Broadcasting, to develop shows in 3D.

Blu-rayThree-dimensional Hollywood blockbusters such as "Avatar," "Up," and "Alice in Wonderland" are a natural for 3D home theater--or so Hollywood hopes. We'll find out later this year when the first 3D Blu-ray discs begin to ship. Better get your earplugs ready, because the marketing hype for "Avatar" in particular is bound to be deafening.

More: HDTV 2010: The 3D Revolution Is Coming. Not surprisingly, 3D TV programming pickings will be slim this year, but your 3D-viewing choices should increase considerably in 2011, particularly if 3D TV sets gain favor with consumers--a development that's far from certain right now.

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter (@jbertolucci ) or at jbertolucci.blogspot.com .

This story, "Sony, Samsung, Panasonic 3D TVs: So What's On?" was originally published by PCWorld.

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