New York – Sean Bratches, ESPN and Disney sales and marketing executive
VP vowed Tuesday to keep the “3D needle moving” as mounting new evidence
indicates consumers are starting to warm up to 3DTV in the home.
During his keynote address at NewBay Media’s “Connected TV and
3D” conference at the Roosevelt Hotel here Tuesday, Bratches issued a theme
that would resonate throughout the morning when he said ESPN 3D is currently
available to some 65 million homes, and is ahead of where ESPN HD was at a
similar stage in its growth cycle. (NewBay Media is the parent company of
Since kicking off with the 2010 FIFA World Cup last June, ESPN 3D
has now aired 106 events in the format, baseball, boxing, X Games, football and
The night before the seminar, ESPN 3D aired its 106
live event when the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder in
overtime during an NBA playoff thriller.
Looking ahead, Bratches said ESPN is planning 3D coverage of the
NBA Finals, five boxing matches, MLB’s Home Run Derby and a couple of soccer
matches involving Real Madrid versus MLS teams in the “World Football
Challenge” this July.
Bratches rallied the industries to unite behind the further
growth and development of 3D technology, pointing to double-digit advances in consumer
awareness and an expected fivefold increase in the number of 3D sets to be sold
in 2011, helped along by dropping price points and the release of 33 3D
theatrical releases this year.
Bratches further cited Insight Media research calling for 100 3D
channels to be available globally by 2015.
Remaining obstacles for 3D, he said, include 40 percent of
consumers who are confused by 3D technology, and 70 percent who are deterred by
a perceived lack of available content.
and others continue to
seek out methods to reduce production costs in order to ramp up the amount of
“At ESPN, it’s our intention to keep the needle moving,” he said.
Concerning connected TV technologies Bratches said ESPN is at
work on developing Internet TV content as well.
“At ESPN we are and have been technology agnostic. We serve all
comers, whether its satellite, whether its telco, whether its cable, and we
analyze new opportunities virtually every day,” Bratches said. “We’ve always
been on the forefront of new technologies. So with connected television or any
new technology, we are always looking for new ways to fulfill our mission to
serve sports fans and grow our business, and we try to do that better every
Bratches said ESPN is currently testing a variety of connected TV
systems for next-generation platform delivery, including the Samsung Next Level
“Sports fans can access in-depth information regarding the best
events in sports and plants the news right there on a Samsung screen,” he said.
Bratches cited ESPN research showing that threats of consumer
cord-cutting as a result of connected TV services are overblown.
Net cord-cutting from multichannel video providers was less than
one tenth of a percent, he said.
And for heavy sports fans, he added, cord-cutting is virtually
Bratches said pointed to those he called “uncutters,” who live in