The channels will include ESPN 3D, a 3D-only channel called N3D, one 3D pay-per view channel, and one 3D DirecTV on Demand.
ESPN 3D is arriving just in time for the 2010 World Cup, which will be the first time a major sporting event is broadcast in 3D. DirecTV says there will be 25 World Cup matches available in 3D. For those not into soccer, ESPN says there will be "a minimum" of 85 live sports events filmed in 3D for the first year, starting June 11. The X Games, the college football's ACC championship game, the 2011 BCS National Championship game, college basketball, and some NBA games are already on the schedule.
ND3 will be sort of a catch-all 3D channel with content from a variety of providers, including Fox, NBC, MTV, CBS (publisher of CNET), HDNet, and Turner Broadcasting.
ESPN 3D is a free upgrade for DirecTV customers who already subscribe to ESPN. The other 3D programming is available to all DirecTV subscribers as a free upgrade, but will only be useful to customers with a 3D TV. Fortunately, they're starting to hit stores. Panasonic, Sony, and Samsung plan to have several models of 3D TVs for sale by June.
In the announcement, DirecTV Executive Vice President Eric Shanks said the satellite provider would be "announcing additional 3D partners throughout the year." Might that eventually include Discovery 3D? Discovery Channel announced that the channel--a cooperation among Discovery, Sony, and IMAX--was in the works in January, but we haven't yet heard which cable or satellite providers will be offering it.
Other service providers are also getting into the 3D mix. Last week, Cablevision broadcast a National Hockey League game in 3D to subscribers in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.