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WORLD CUP IN 3-D

In the past year the 3-D concept has begun to reappear in both film and now broadcast television. Originally seen in the 1950s as a way to draw audiences into the Cinema, 3-D technology is now available at home. The biggest push in 3-D technology has been from the ESPN network, which will launch its new ESPN3D channel on June 11th in conjunction with the start of the 2010 World Cup.

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Currently the most challenging issue facing this new technology is the lack of 3D ready televisions and as was the case in the early days of HDTV those available are extremely expensive. Up until now the units had been retailing upwards of $10,000, but leading brands are said to be soon launching versions for around 3,000.

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While ESPN has done one-off event coverage in 3-D, the World Cup will be their first large-scale production. Five of the ten world cup stadiums will be equipped with 3-D technology, which is being provided in partnership by SONY. ESPN will broadcast a total of 25 games in 3-D with the first being hosts South Africa vs. Mexico. Currently ESPN3D will only be available through Direct TV and Spanish based Sogecable; but more official carriers are said to be in the works.

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While Sony and ESPN will clearly benefit from the publicity created by the project, it is still unclear if the public is ready to embrace $200 dollar glasses for their sports viewing. Will 3-D television go the way of the Beta-Max or is this next VHS?

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