ESPN won't shoot 3D football until 2014

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ESPN's eight-year, $15.2 billion rights deal with the National Football league will allow it to shoot Monday Night Football Games in 3D, but the sports network said it won't begin producing football in 3D until 2014.

ESPN NFL Monday Night Football

ESPN extended its Monday Night Football deal with the NFL for 8 years, but 3D isn't immediately in the game plan. (Image source: ESPN)

While ESPN's plan to produce football in 3D should dismiss speculation that the all-sports network was thinking about shuttering its ESPN 3D channel, making viewers wait three years to watch the nation's most popular sport in 3D may not bode well in the near term for sales of 3D-enabled TVs.

But ESPN's commitment to shoot football games in 3D will have a significant impact on cable operators and technology vendors, in the long term. Most cable operators that carry ESPN 3D and other 3D networks set aside a 6 MHz channel for the 3D feed. But if ESPN ends up delivering 3D football in full resolution, distributors could be forced to set aside additional channel capacity.

As has been the case every time ESPN has renewed its contracts with the NFL during the last 20 years, some distributors are griping about the cost of the deal and the impact it on ESPN's license fees. While ESPN insists that it won't slap cable and satellite affiliates with an NFL surcharge, Dish Network (Nasdaq: DISH) is reportedly pushing to kick ESPN to a sports tier so non-sports fans won't have to pay for the games.

For more:
- see the ESPN news release
- New York Post takes a look at Dish Network's response to the ESPN deal
- Multichannel News has this story
- The New York Times has this story

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