A pair of movie companies will run ads in 3D Friday as ESPN airs its first NBA game in the emerging format. Disney will air a trailer for the latest installment of its "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise, while Universal will back the DVD for "Despicable Me."
Also, in a nifty tie-in, Philips will air a spot for a Norelco 3D razor. And Sony, which is an official sponsor of the ESPN 3D network, has also purchased time.
The game on the ESPN 3D network between Miami and New York is the first NBA game on the channel, which launched in June during the World Cup. Philips and Sony were also advertisers during college football broadcasts. ESPN has one promo in 3D that it runs.
The commercial load is significantly less, since ESPN only accepts 3D ads for the network during the broadcasts. Breaks usually run around 60 seconds.
ESPN 3D is available in about 62.5 million homes from providers: AT&T U-Verse, Comcast, DirecTV and Time Warner Cable. Next year, Verizon will begin offering it. While Comcast and DirecTV air the network for free, AT&T and Time Warner Cable have a charge attached.
Despite the potential to track usage by skimming data from set-top boxes, ESPN says it has no viewership information. To date, the numbers of 3D TVs in homes isn't large; others have yet to hook up the technology.
Still, a recent study from Infogroup/ORC indicates the heavy marketing for the 3D sets may be raising interest levels. In January, the firm found 1% of survey respondents already owned a set, while 5% said they expected to buy one in the next two years. Last month, those numbers were up to 4% and 11%, respectively.
The latest telephone survey took place Nov. 11-14 and canvassed 1,011 adults ages 18 and over. There was a margin of error of plus or minus 3%.