Networks Wary of Lofty 3D Production Costs
NEW YORK -- Programmers will have little incentive to produce sporting events and other content in 3D until the production costs are slashed, executives said here Wednesday.
A DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) executive told attendees at a PK World Media conference that the satellite provider finds it challenging to license enough 3D content to program its new 3D channels, while officials from ESPN and CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS) said the industry must work to produce live sporting events simultaneously in both 2D and 3D, rather than shelling out money on separate productions. (See DirecTV Won't Give Cable Access to 3D Nets and Cable-Tec Expo: Lack of Standards Hinders 3DTV.)
"There is no way that my boss or company will allow us to get into the technology unless it's paid for," CBS Sports EVP of operations and technology Ken Aagaard said. CBS produced the Final Four games from the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and the US Open Tennis Championship in 3D through a sponsorship with Panasonic Corp. (NYSE: PC).
Aagaard said CBS will continue to produce 3D sporting events on a "one-off" basis when it has support from a sponsor, or strikes deals to share production costs with other broadcasters and distributors.
ESPN VP of emerging technology Andrew Bailey said the sports network, which flipped the switch on ESPN 3D in July, is working with Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) and technology vendors to help keep production costs in check. ESPN deploys separate production trucks, cameras, and crews to produce college football and other events in 3D, he said. (See ESPN Jumps Into the 3DTV Game .)
"We have to work now at getting the costs down. We have to work at putting one mobile unit up to do the event, instead of the caravan we pull up now," Bailey added.
DirecTV VP of entertainment Patricia Ishimoto boasted that the top DBS provider is the first distributor to launch a dedicated 3D channel, but said that DirecTV has had difficulty finding enough 3D content to fill them. DirecTV is working with programmers ranging from A&E Television Networks to foreign pay-TV distributors such as Sky in the United Kingdom and Spain’s Sogecable SA to acquire 3D programming, she added.
"The challenges range from the dearth of existing content that is out there," Ishimoto added.
Also worth noting from Wednesday’s 3D panel:
— Steve Donohue, Special to