Discover, Sony and Imax will Launch 3D TV Network in 2011 and ESPN 3D Starts in 2010

NY Times reports Discovery, Imax and Sony confirmed on Tuesday that they are forming a joint venture for a 3-D television channel.

Broadcasting Cable has some more info: The partnership aims to launch in the U.S. in 2011 with a mix of 3D-friendly content, including natural history, space, exploration, adventure, engineering, science and technology, motion pictures and children’s programming from Discovery, Sony Pictures Entertainment, IMAX and other third-party providers. It will also explore international distribution opportunities in the future.

Discover has been evaluating “dimensionalization” technology from several firms as a potential way to convert 2D archive content to 3D in post-production, which would be more cost-effective than shooting new 3D fare with specialized cameras.

Earlier Tuesday, ESPN announced that it would start “ESPN 3D” in June 2010. The channel will show a minimum of 85 live 3-D events during the first year. USA Today reported that ESPN is committing to the network through June 2011.

Sony is also expected to have a role in ESPN’s new 3D channel that was announced today, as it has already formed a partnership with FIFA to produce a number of 2010 World Cup matches in 3D.

The launch of a new DirecTV satellite last week has fueled speculation that DirecTV will launch a 3D HD service next year, something 3D insiders have suggested privately for months. The blog reported that DirecTV will use the new DirecTV 12 satellite to start an all-3D HD channel offering an assortment of movies, sports and programs in 3D, and that it will announce the new service at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week.

DirecTV’s current HDTV boxes will receive a firmware upgrade to allow existing subscribers to receive HD 3D programming that will be compatible with new 3D-capable HDTV sets from Panasonic, Sony, Samsung, LG and other TV makers, as well as existing Mitsubishi DLP sets that would require a 3D converter box. All the sets would require DirecTV subscribers to wear special glasses to view the 3D content.