Networks Want 3D Costs Shared

David-Hill-AThe top Fox Sports executive said Wednesday that 3D sportscasts still have runway ahead, but networks should not have to pay for the takeoff alone. Unlike with the expensive upgrades made to offer sports in HD, David Hill said other entities should share in the pricey costs to produce in 3D. Presumably, that includes the leagues and rights holders, as well as manufacturers of 3D TV sets.

“It’s got to be equally shared, and the broadcasters should not be stuck with the bill as we were with HD,” Hill said at the national cable convention.

He allowed that widespread consumer adoption of 3D will not come as swiftly as he thought, but he believes it will “open a whole different world for sports.”

ESPN 3D was dropped last year by AT&T U-verse, but ESPN continues to invest heavily in the network.



This summer, broadcasts in 3D from the London Olympics might include some of the dynamic that Hill is advocating. NBCUniversal will offer ample coverage the day after events are held. Panasonic and an arm of the International Olympic Committee are spearheading the production globally.

Hill spoke at an industry panel that also included Turner Sports head David Levy, who commented on the recent availability of March Madness games online. Consumers with TV Everywhere access via authentication could get the coverage on TNT, TBS and truTV for free. Others would pay $3.99.  

Levy said the move was aimed at boosting TV Everywhere use, which also keeps the traditional pay-TV revenue model in place that generates affiliate fees for networks. He said Turner did not make any money off the $3.99 option, but learned a significant amount about TV Everywhere.

“If I didn’t make a dime and everybody authenticated, I would have been happy,” he said.

ESPN President John Skipper said the company’s WatchESPN authentication option is proving a success with 77% of users saying it gives them a more favorable opinion about their cable operator, while a similar amount could not envision shifting to another provider that did not offer the option.

Separately, ESPN has a recent deal with Twitter that involves aggregation and an effort to garner ad revenue that will be shared. In that vein, Fox’s Hill said the second-screen, simultaneous viewing experience is a burgeoning opportunity for programmers.

“I don’t believe the potential has been explored as it should be,” he said.

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