Panasonic, DirecTV Launch n3D Channel
Panasonic and satellite TV service provider DirecTV co-launched on July 1 one of a suite of three dedicated 3D high-definition channels. The channel, n3D, exclusively sponsored by Panasonic, became immediately available to all DirecTV HD customers free of charge and accessible on Channel 103 in full HD 3D to those who own a 3D TV set.
Two other DirecTV channels, the pay-per-view DirecTV Cinema in 3D (Channel 104), running IMAX titles, and DirecTV On Demand in 3D (Channel 105), showing FIFA World Cup game replays, also commenced operation at the same time, according to Steven Roberts, senior vice president for new media development at DirecTV, who, with Panasonic Consumer Electronics Co. president Shiro Kitajima, counted down to the launch at a New York City-held event.
Through July, n3D will broadcast a mix of event-driven sports programming and family-oriented general entertainment programming, said Panasonic North America chief technology officer Eisuke Tsuyuzaki. Some high-profile special events to be carried in 3D on the channel include the July 4 weekend NASCAR Coke Zero 400, the local broadcast of the Yankees-Mariners series July 10 and 11, and the national broadcast of the 2010 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
Kitajima noted that adoption by consumers of 3D is happening “much more quickly” than for HDTV – propelled by set costs only marginally higher than those of comparably sized flat-screen sets, educational efforts by major retailers and the growing availability of 3D gaming software, with titles numbering more than 400 at present, and 3D Blu-ray movie titles.
DirecTV’s Roberts said his company decided to jump on the 3D bandwagon in earnest last year. “We had the infrastructure in place from HD, and our goal was to make sure it was easy for our subscribers to get – not to have them jump through hoops – and to be consistent with our mission to provide the best video experience on both the technology and content sides.” Roberts said a priority was to have DirecTV engineers complete the necessary software upgrade at no additional cost to subscribers before the FIFA World Cup games; that was achieved, and the games have been broadcast since mid-June on DirecTV’s ESPN 3D Channel 106.