Discovery, Sony, IMAX quietly shutter 3D channel 3net

The partners quietly wound down their major joint venture last month, realscreen has learnt, in a move that throws a question mark over the future of 3D television.
September 25, 2014

Discovery Communications, Sony and IMAX have shuttered their all-3D joint venture U.S. TV channel 3net.

The partners quietly wound down their major JV last month, after distributor DirecTV dropped the channel, a Discovery spokesperson has confirmed to realscreen.

3net president and CEO Tom Cosgrove has since become the general manager of Discovery Family Channel, the rebranded Hub Network that will air a mix of family-skewing unscripted programming from Discovery, and kids fare produced by channel partner Hasbro.

The closure will not affect 3net’s staff, who will continue producing 3D content for the channel’s production division 3net Studios.

“The business had been evolving over the past couple of years to focus more 3net Studios, which creates HD, 3D and 4K content for both the international joint venture partners’ businesses, as well as third-party distributors worldwide,” a Discovery spokesperson told realscreen. “The 3net staff supported both the channel and the studio so no changes to report there.”

A 3net Studios spokesperson added that company will grow and evolve its production slates across a variety of platforms.

“3D remains a vital, growing area for entertainment companies – from theatrical to gaming, physical and new media, and as the 3D television landscape continues to evolve in the U.S., we will explore future opportunities in the space,” the company said. “In the near term, we’ve focused our resources towards building upon the company’s world-class HD, 3D and 4K studio division.”

Discovery, Sony and IMAX launched 3net to much fanfare in 2011, hoping to capitalize on the emergence of 3D television sets. Despite the hype surrounding the technology, 3D-ready TVs failed to catch on with consumers due to the unpopularity of 3D glasses and the high costs associated with producing 3D content.

“Due to limited viewer adoption of 3D technology, 3net (ch. 107) has been discontinued as of August 12. This channel will no longer be offered to any entertainment providers, including DirecTV,” the satellite provider wrote in a message on its customer support forum.

The closure throws a question mark over the future of 3D television - at least in its current form.

The news comes after ESPN last year announced the closure of its 3D sports network, and the BBC indefinitely shelved plans to produce 3D programming. This month, UK broadcaster Sky confirmed that it would not air Premier League soccer matches on its 3D channel this season.

DirecTV previously axed 3D channel n3D in 2012, citing a lack of consumer interest. It still offers Hollywood blockbusters in 3D via its DirecTV Cinema channel.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, manufacturer Vizio dropped 3D-ready televisions from its line-up as other brands shifted focus to 4K technology and glasses-free (or autostereo) 3D TVs.

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