If you weren't aware of ESPN's 3D channel, don't worry, you're not alone. The channel launched in 2010 has been marred by two things that ruin any capitalistic venture – high cost and low demand. 3D television hasn't quite taken off as was expected a couple years ago and instead has to be put in the class of flying cars and teleportation devices as futuristic trends that are sadly relegated to the future.
Given the lack of an important element of television – viewers – it was only a matter of time before ESPN 3D finally shut down. That time was today as reported by SportsVideo.org:
"As first reported by the Sports Video Group, ESPN will discontinue its 3D network by end of the year. ESPN 3D, which launched in June of 2010, has struggled to gain traction with viewers as the adoption of 3D television sets by U.S. consumers has yet to meet the sky-high expectations of set manufacturers. As the primary outlet for live 3D sports programming over the past three years, its demise represents a major blow to the viability of 3D sports in the U.S.
In an official statement ESPN said: “Due to limited viewer adoption of 3D services to the home, ESPN is discontinuing ESPN 3D. We are committing our 3D resources to other products and services that will better serve fans and affiliates. Nobody knows more about sports in 3D than ESPN, and we will be ready to provide the service to fans if or when 3D does take off. As technology leaders, we continue to experiment with things like Ultra High Definition television (also known as Ultra HD television or UHDTV) production tools to produce our current ESPN family of HD channels.”
ESPN 3D could have been the most fabulous technological innovation of our time, but it isn't worth more than a plastic spork if no demand exists for the product. Take this fact from USA Today as an example – 3D television viewership is so low that Nielsen is unable to capture any meaningful data about it. Furthermore, 2% of TVs in America had 3D capabilities as of last fall.
I can't say I know anyone who owns or even wants to own a 3D television. There's such little on offer in the marketplace that it's just not worth the investment. In fact, ESPN was by far the most substantial company to buy in to 3D television and with its exit, folks are wondering if the entirety of 3D television is coming to an end before it well and truly got off the ground.
It's not a complete loss for ESPN though. If and when 3D TV ever makes a comeback in 2176 or whatever, they will be well ahead of the curve. And that's the difference between ESPN and nearly every other television conglomerate in the world. With their billions and billions of dollars, they can afford a dalliance in 3D television when nobody else can.