A day after it announced a joint venture with Discovery Communications and IMAX to create a new 24-hour 3D channel that will launch in 2011, Sony maintained its 3D momentum at the CES show in Las Vegas.
The company's big 3D news at its CES press event Wednesday was that it will be an official sponsor of the new 3D network from cable sports giant ESPN, and the exclusive 3D sponsor of the 2011 BCS National Championship Game, 13 regular season college football games and Summer X Games. ESPN will use Sony professional HD cameras to produce the events for the 3D channel, which kicks off in June with up to 25 matches from the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
ESPN president George Bodenheimer said the network was "incredibly excited" about the opportunity to work with Sony to promote 3D technology and said the collaboration made sense for both parties.
"We know sports fans drive new technology," said Bodenheimer. "We saw that when we launched ESPN HD back in 2003."
Bodenheimer noted that when ESPN first got into HD, it had one network and 100 HD telecasts in the first year. Now it produces 4000 HD telecasts annually across four HD networks.
Sony Chairman Howard Stringer said that besides the ESPN deal and a previously announced 3D initiative with the 2010 World Cup, Sony is also working with the PGA Tour to produce golf in 3D. Sony is also building a 3D Technology Center at the Sony Pictures lot in Culver City, Calif., and partnering with CBS to create the first consumer research initiative for 3D, the Sony 3D Experience. It will be headquartered in Las Vegas at CBS' existing consumer research facility at the MGM Grand hotel and run by CBS research chief David Poltrack.
Stringer brought teenage pop star Taylor Swift, Sony's new brand ambassador, onstage to give a live performance that was captured with 3D cameras and projected on a large display behind the stage. Discovery CEO David Zaslav and IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond also joined Stringer to promote the joint venture and showcase the type of 3D content that will be seen on the new 3D channel.
After viewing the 3D footage, Stringer quipped: "Imagine ‘Shark Week' in 3D-we'll have to provide everyone who signs up for the network with a defibrillator."
Sony Electronics president and COO Stan Glasgow said Sony will launch a full 3D integrated Bravia LCD TV in 2010, which will be packaged with two pairs of active-shutter glasses as well as a built-in transmitter to operate the glasses. Sony will also sell two other series of 3D-capable models that will have many of the same features, but the active shutter glasses and "3D Sync Transmitter" will be sold separately.
Sony will also launch a new 3D-capable Blu-ray player, and Stringer said that that existing Playstation 3 units will be able to play 3D Blu-ray discs through a software upgrade.
Stringer, who joined the audience in donning 3D glasses for the demonstrations, emphasized Sony's end-to-end support for 3D from production to display technology and called 3D a "perfect example of how we'll marshal all of our resources to present the next great consumer experience."