DIRECTV Launches Suite of 3D Services

DIRECTV this morning officially flipped the switch on its new 3D channel, n3D as well as a 3D VOD and PPV service. Located at channels 103, 104, and 105 they signal a new opportunity for 3D content creators to reach viewers across the U.S. and a new opportunity for DIRECTV to tighten its bond with tech savvy subscribers. “This is just the beginning and we will have additional deals with partners and our own 3D productions,” says Steven Roberts, DIRECTV, senior vice president. “We will have more quality content as it becomes available to provide the best video experience for our customers. This is the next step in the TV revolution.”

The audience at the present time is nascent, at best, but Shiro Kitajima, president of Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company, the company sponsoring the DIRECTV 3D network, says that 3D has been embraced much more quickly than HD, thanks to movies.

“Consumers appreciate the value and, unlike the early HD sets, 3D is only marginally more expensive than high-end flat-screen TVs,” he says. “We’re finding that this will be a great success as we work together to create 3D sports, concerts, and entertainment.”

NASCAR in 3D and the MLB All-Star Game in 3D are two of the upcoming sport events that will be featured on the network. Other programming includes nature programs, concerts sponsored by Guitar Center (not full blown concerts but intimate in-studio performances), and more.

“We’re busy licensing content and on the production side the curve [of content available] is growing while the learning curve is getting shorter,” adds Roberts. “That means more and more content is going to be produced.”

Right now DIRECTV is not producing 2D programs converted to 3D but if the quality of the converted material can improve it could have a presence. “For now the focus is on native 3D.”

The 3D content is available over existing DIRECTV set-tops boxes with content delivered via side-by-side transmission at 1080p. It also culminates nearly four years of research and development.

“We have been discussing this for four years in planning meetings and it was about this time last year that we thought the perfect storm was coming,” adds Roberts. “Not only was our technology and infrastructure for 3D ready but there were great consumer monitors from companies like Panasonic that were creating an experience at home that was as good as being at the theater. And now we can scale 3D to millions of homes.”

How long it will take to get 3D into millions of homes remains to be seen but Roberts says that DIRECTV is in it for the long haul as it looks to educate consumers about a 3D experience that is more than just making viewers feel like spears are being thrown out of the TV set.

“The productions are only going to get better, the technology is only going to get better, and the monitors are only going to get better,” he adds. “It is now a part of the home entertainment experience and providing 3D is part of our commitment.”

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