Panasonic and DirecTV answered weeks of speculation over which U.S. pay-TV operator would be first to launch a 3D HD service by announcing Wednesday at CES that DirecTV will launch 3 3D channels by June 2010, two linear channels and one video-on-demand-based channel.
Panasonic will be the exclusive presenting sponsor for the channels, which will be viewable on new 3D HD sets in conjunction with existing DirecTV set-tops and feature a mix of sports movies and documentaries.
"When you bring a new 3D set home, it will just be plug-and-play," said DirecTV EVP Eric Shanks.
Shanks said that a number of major programmers have committed to provide 3D content to the service, including CBS, NBC, MTV, AEG, HDNet and Fox Sports, which will broadcast the 2010 Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 3D.
In its booth at CES this week, Panasonic will be demonstrating a live broadcast of the new 3D service to a DirecTV set-top, including pause capability.
"We look forward to working with Panasonic as we explore the new frontier of TV entertainment," said Shanks.
Yoshi Yamada, chairman and CEO of Panasonic Corp. of North America, said that Panasonic will have a full line of 3D displays and Blu-ray players in the market this year. He also showed off a professional 3D HD camcorder, equipped with dual-lenses for stereoscopic 3D production.
He said Panasonic will formally unveil the new camcorder at the NAB show in Las Vegas in April, where "Panasonic is going to have a lot more to say about this part of the business."