ESPN to close 3D sport channel after three years


Cable channel ESPN has decided to close its 3D sport channel after just three years.

In another sign that 3D has failed to find favour among consumers and save the struggling TV manufacturing industry, ESPN says it is ending the 3D service due to lack of interest.

The decision, rumoured for some time, comes as interest in the format wanes with TV manufacturers changing tack and focusing on Smart- and 4K-capable sets. ESPN confirmed that the channel will close at the end of the year.

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The Disney-owned company launched the 3D channel three years ago, and its first broadcast was the 2010 World Cup match between South Africa and Mexico.

At the time, ESPN president George Bodenheimer said that the network's commitment to 3D was a "win for fans... that would put it at the forefront of the next big advance for TV viewing".

However, since then interest has waned and recent figures show that in the US no more than 120,000 people are watching 3D channels at any one time.

ESPN spokeswoman Katina Arnold says it will switch its 3D resources "to other products and services that will better serve fans". The network plans to continue experimenting with Ultra High Definition (4K).

In the UK, satellite broadcaster Sky continues to support 3D, having broadcast Formula 1 in 3D for the first time in February. And last year the BBC broadcast parts of the Olympics, Wimbledon and the Last Night of the Proms in 3D.

By Andy Clough

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Andy Clough

Andy is Global Brand Director of What Hi-Fi? and has been a technology journalist for 30 years. During that time he has covered everything from VHS and Betamax, MiniDisc and DCC to CDi, Laserdisc and 3D TV, and any number of other formats that have come and gone. He loves nothing better than a good old format war. Andy edited several hi-fi and home cinema magazines before relaunching in 2008 and helping turn it into the global success it is today. When not listening to music or watching TV, he spends far too much of his time reading about cars he can't afford to buy.