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The Mad Rush for 3-D TV

Fairgoers wear special '3D' glasses as they watch a movie on a 3D TV screen.
John Macdougall | AFP | Getty Images
Fairgoers wear special '3D' glasses as they watch a movie on a 3D TV screen.

2010 is going to be a big year for 3-D: on the heels of the huge success of Avatar, 3-D will expand both at theaters and in home entertainment.

That's right, you'll soon be able to watch 3-D from the comfort of your couch. And yes, you'll still have to wear those funny-looking glasses. Today was a big day for channel surfers as a number of major companies announced new 3-D channels.

It'll continue to be a big week for 3-D in the home: a number of electronics makers are readying to debut new 3-D enabled TVs and blu-ray players at the Consumer Electronics Show.

This morning ESPN announced it'll launch a 3-D network in June with a World Cup Soccer Match. ESPN 3D plans to run at least 85 live sporting events during the first year, and since it's not running any reruns, it'll be dark the rest of the time. ESPN is treating this as an experiment, saying it'll assess the technology in 2011. This isn't ESPN's first foray into 3D - it's been testing the technology for over two years, showing a USC - Ohio State football game in 3-D theaters this fall.

Also today Discovery Communications, Sony , and Imax announced they're launching a joint venture for a full-time 3-D channel. The new channel would show programming from the three companies, and would draw on each of their strengths. Discovery will handle the logistics of the channel, and can tap into 3-D versions of all its content. Imax has 3-D technology and will work to license 3-D rights to 3-D films that want to show in its theaters. Sony of course also has expertise with movie and TV rights, which it will also work on licensing, as well as tapping into video game content and handling advertising sales.

It'll still be a while before 3-D becomes mainstream, but these announcements and the others that are sure to come this week speak to the fact that the technology is at a turning point. Just as HDTV slowly became commonplace, 3-D will eventually become a standard way to experience a sporting event. These companies are looking to get in early and position themselves at the cutting edge. 3-D won't move the needle for another couple years, but it could very well offer the kind of premium experience that merits premium pricing and attracts advertisers.

  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.