When I recently went to check what 3D programming was on DirecTV, I noticed something unusual in the program guide: The n3D channel, which DirecTV launched in conjunction with Panasonic back in 2010, had no current listings.
Instead, there was a placeholder touting coverage of the upcoming London Summer Olympics this summer. Apparently, despite there being more 3D TVs in homes than when the n3D network launched, the companies involved decided to move to part-time 3D broadcast, leaving the Sony/Discovery/Imax channel, 3net, as
the only full-time 3D network on DirecTV. (ESPN 3D is also a full-time channel, but DirecTV only airs it part time.) [UPDATE: DirecTV informs me that ESPN 3D has now moved to full time status.--Ed.]
I contacted DirecTV to find out whether the move was temporary or permanent. "While 3D adoption continues to grow and more programming is being developed, DirecTV has decided to move n3D to a part-time channel," an executive emailed. "Our 3D customers will still enjoy a variety of 3D programming spanning across all genres from top 3D networks ESPN 3D and 3net."
DirecTV, I was told, will continue to air programming on n3D, including original series such as Guitar Center Sessions, music concerts, and special events, including the upcoming Summer Olympics. "[DirecTV] will continue to look for new, quality 3D programming to acquire and deliver to our 3D customers," the email continued.
As far as the Olympics, DirecTV says it plans to air both the opening and closing Olymics ceremonies in 3D, as well as select events, including gymnastics, diving, and swimming.
NBC, which is broadcasting the Olympics, told me that it will be offering 242 hours of 3D broadcasts (in conjunction with Panasonic, which is also a partner in the n3D channel) to various TV service providers, who then have to decide whether or not to take it. But the 3D coverage won't be live; instead, they'll be broadcast the day after they actually happen.
If you have a 3D TV and want to watch the Olympics in that format, you'll have to check with your local TV service provider to find out its plans for 3D coverage of the event. We imagine that some time soon NBC will have a comprehensive list of all the cable, satellite and telco TV service providers that will be airing 3D Olympic coverage, although you'll still need to check local listings for exact broadcast times.
And if you're an Olympics junkie but not so interested in 3D, NBC will be live-streaming every single Olympics event at its NBCOlympics.com website.
We'll keep monitoring the news for more information about 3D broadcasts to keep you informed. And we'd love to know whether you're interested in seeing the Olympic 3D broadcasts, and whether the event might spur you into getting a 3D set if you don't already own one.
—James K. Willcox