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With ESPN Calling It Quits, the Writing Is on the Wall for 3D

Esteban Nichol (left) and Jonathan Alcantara spar live in the boxing ring in the ESPN 3D section at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center January 12, 2012 in Las Vegas
Esteban Nichol (left) and Jonathan Alcantara spar live in the boxing ring in the ESPN 3D section at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center January 12, 2012 in Las VegasPhotograph by Bryan Steffy/WireImage via Getty Images

Nails are being banged into the coffin for 3D television. On Wednesday, Disney said it would discontinue its 3D channel by the end of this year. Television manufacturers always saw sports programming as the way to persuade people about 3D, just as adoption of HDTV was driven largely by NFL fans. The fans weren’t persuaded. Three years into ESPN’s 3D push, the company said the whole thing wasn’t worth the effort.

3D has always been a technology that television manufacturers wanted to sell a lot more than anyone wanted to buy. For the last several years, 3D televisions have been trumpeted as the future at such events as the Consumer Electronics Show. But even with all the energy the industry could muster, only 20 percent of LCD televisions sold had 3D capability. Even this is probably an overstatement of how much interest there is in the technology, because it sure looks like a lot of people who buy those televisions never put on those glasses.