According to a tweet created by ESPN communications vice president Katina Arnold, the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network will shut down the ESPN 3D channel by the end of 2013 due to extremely low adoption among consumers. ESPN was one of the first channels to announce support for the 3D format back during CES 2010. At the time, 3D television manufacturers like Sony and Panasonic promoted the June 2010 launch of the channel in order to encourage increased adoption of 3DTV hardware.
The official statement from the company reads “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.” Basically, ESPN is leaving the door open to restarting the channel if the adoption rate grows more rapidly.
After ESPN 3D got off the ground with the 2010 FIFA World Cup’s opening match, the sports network pushed ahead in 2011 with a constant stream of 3D programming. Unfortunately, the extremely slow adoption of 3D televisions made the channel a tough sell for premium television companies. During mid-2011, AT&T dropped the channel from the U-Verse lineup due to low demand for the channel in addition to a high monthly fee for access. While DirecTV hasn’t cut the channel from its lineup, it scaled back on 3D content last year also citing low demand from subscribers.
As the ESPN 3D channel shuts down, the sports network will be redirecting attention to expanding Ultra HD (4K) broadcasts. Assuming Ultra HD television adoption ramps up in the coming years, it’s possible that ESPN will look into launching an Ultra HD specific channel.