Discovery, Sony And IMAX Partner On 3D TV

Just in time for the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where our Staci D. Kramer is headed, Discovery Communications (NSDQ: DISCA), Sony (NYSE: SNE) Corporation and IMAX are starting a joint venture to develop a 24/7, 3D TV network in the U.S. The trio expects to launch the new venture in 2011, which comes a year later than ESPN’s planned 3D TV network, also announced for CES. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

The division of labor is perfectly aligned to each company’s abilities: Discovery will handle network services such as affiliate sales, as well as 3D TV rights to Discovery content. Discovery also promises to promote the venture heavily across its portfolio of 13 U.S. TV networks. Sony will manage ad sales and sponsorships, while working to secure TV rights for 3D feature films, music- and game-related 3D content. It will extend Discovery’s on-air announcements of the forthcoming network with promotions at retail stores. Lastly, IMAX will help Sony on licensing TV rights to future 3D films, as well as offering further promotion at the movie theaters it owns.

While 3D, whether on TV or for movies, has always seemed more gimmicky than anything else, the announcement comes as Avatar has broken box office records, which was helped in large part by its IMAX release, making this announcement a little more timely. But one hit movie doesn’t necessarily mean a trend is on the way either. Release

Do viewers want their 3D TV?: It looks like 3D TVs are all the rage at this year’s CES, says a highly dubious Nick Bilton in a NYT Bits blog post. Just about all the major TV manufacturers are previewing their 3D-enabled products this year. Even more than dynamic imagery popping out from their sets, consumers can really expect to be asked to pay as much as $3,000 more to “to replace the crystal clear high-definition flat-panel TV you just bought at Christmas (for a third of the price).” Sure watching Avatar at home in 3D, as well as viewing sports or playing video games, would be spectacular. But does anyone want to see Seinfeld reruns in 3D? An unscientific, informal survey of Bilton and his “geekiest” friends suggests that the answer, at least this year, is no.