Take a day off, miss some big 3D news. DirecTV offered us an update yesterday on one of its upcoming 3D TV channels. We knew ESPN 3D was coming, but now we know when: June 11. More notably, Cox Communications plans to air the upcoming Masters Tournament for all customers who have an HD receiver. That makes Cox the first cable TV provider in Orange County to make some sort of commitment to 3D.
Let’s start with Cox. The cable company will air the Masters Tournament next week from Augusta National Golf Club beginning Wednesday, April 7 (yes, that’s the event where we will all see Tiger Wood’s return to the sport). There will be two hours a day of live coverage, starting at 1 or 2 p.m, our time. The same coverage will also be available on demand (go to channel 1). If you’re not an eligible Cox subscriber, you can also view the 3D coverage at Masters.com if you have a 3D-compatible computer.
What will you see? “Viewers will be better able to depict the many subtleties and elevation changes of the course’s grounds,” says Cox.
The interesting note is that Cox is a cable company. And cable companies have complained about not having enough space to air more HD channels. Companies are tweaking the technology and playing with available bandwidth in order to squeeze more HD into a customer’s house. Cox, for example, has turned some regular TV channels into on-demand only so that they are not broadcasting 24/7. When a customer wants to view the channel, it starts airing as if it were broadcasting 24/7.
Comcast, the nation’s largest cable provider, is also airing the Masters Tournament in 3D. Here’s a good explanation about how Comcast is doing 3D by Engadget, “Comcast’s 3D Masters broadcast explained.”
Time Warner Cable and other TV companies have said very little about their 3D plans. The TV company leading the effort is DirecTV, which announced in January that it will offer three 3D channels this year (see earlier story,”Who’s bringing 3D content to 3D HDTVs“).
(Update: Time Warner will also air the Masters Tournament in 3D. More to come later.)
The big one is ESPN 3D, which plans to broadcast sporting events filmed with 3D cameras. It goes live June 11. The new channel kicks off with the 2010 FIFA World Cup matches. In its first year, ESPN 3D plans to offer a minimum of 85 live events in 3D, including X Games 16, 2010 college football ACC Championship, 2011 BCS National Championship game, college basketball and NBA games.
DirecTV HD customers who subscribe to ESPN will get the new channel at no extra cost. A software update will be pushed out to all DirecTV HD customers just before the launch. The company’s other two 3D channels — an on-demand channel and a pay per view channel — will also launch in June.
Either way, DirecTV and Cox customers will need a few things to get the 3D experience. Consumers must have a 3D HDTV, which are today available from several brands (see list below. Most of today’s 3D TVs also require 3D glasses.
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