In what could be the first nail in the coffin for the technology, ESPN is to discontinue its 3DTV service by the end of 2013.
Officially, ESPN says that it is keeping its options open if 3DTV does ever take off, but the company has confirmed that it is discontinuing the offering due to limited viewer adoption. In a tweet, ESPN spokeswoman Katina Arnold said simply: “ESPN 3D was great at home but due to low adoption of 3D to home, we are discontinuing to focus on other products for fans and affiliates.”
ESPN 3D began broadcasting on 11 June 2010 with the first match of the FIFA World Cup, and claims to be the only 24/7 3D sports network. Its current slate offers over 100 live sporting events including CFB regular season games, the BCS championship, CBB regular season, Big East tournament and X Games.
The news comes as there are murmurings that despite a glacial evolution — hampered by the lack of compelling content in high enough quality, and the cost of technology — 3DTV was beginning to grow. In March 2013, according to the Smart TV Consumer Survey conducted by the IHS Screen Digest TV Systems, American television buyers’ key criteria were seen to be changing, with an increased importance on technology features such as 3D.
The survey also showed that 18.8% of consumers planning to buy a television said they intend to purchase a 3D model. “Features most commonly found on high-end TV models and bigger screen-size sets, like 3D and Internet-connectivity, are becoming more important to US consumers,” said Veronica Thayer, TV systems analyst at IHS. “But the appeal of 3DTV remains far lower than that of Internet-enabled sets.”
As it struggled to take off, 3DTV has been overshadowed, and some say over-hyped, by Ultra HD 4KTV. Indeed, ESPN is making a huge play in this sector.