3D TV programming may be dying before it ever really got off the ground: ESPN, which was one of the first major programmers to embrace the format, plans to discontinue its specialized ESPN 3D channel by year's end. ESPN spokesperson Katina Arnold has confirmed the move via Twitter, squarely blaming low adoption as the reason for the channel's demise.
ESPN 3D was great at home but due to low adoption of 3D to home, we are discontinuing to focus on other products for fans and affiliates— Katina Arnold (@KatinaESPN) June 12, 2013
In a statement to The Verge, a network spokesperson said, "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." ESPN 3D launched in June 2010 with a three-dimensional broadcast of the 2010 FIFA World Cup's opening contest. The network began broadcasting nonstop 3D sports content in early 2011.
Viewer demand aside, adoption among cable providers was also mixed; Comcast, DirecTV, Verizon FiOS have all carried ESPN 3D at various points. AT&T, however, pulled the plug in 2011, claiming the high costs of carrying the channel were outweighed by low demand.
As it sunsets one TV trend, ESPN is already looking ahead to another, more impactful upgrade: 4K. "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," it said in a statement.