FIFA considers scrapping 3-D coverage of World Cup

FIFA considers scrapping 3-D coverage of World Cup
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - FIFA is considering scrapping 3-D broadcasts of the next World Cup, describing ESPN's decision to abandon the format as another setback for the technology.

The sports network said earlier this week that there weren't enough viewers in the United States to make 3-D broadcasts worth the investment, and ESPN's dedicated channel will close by the end of the year.

"We know that the technology has had a few setbacks in recent days, if you refer to some of the statements by (ESPN)," Niclas Ericson, FIFA's director of television, said Wednesday at a briefing during the Confederations Cup.

"It's clear when a big sports broadcaster like ESPN makes an announcement like that it creates a lot of extra tension (for the technology)," Ericson added.

The 2010 World Cup in South Africa was the first to be broadcast in 3-D, with 25 of the 64 matches screened in the format fueled, by what FIFA described at the time, as "rapidly growing consumer interest."

But demand for 3-D television sets doesn't appear to have taken off globally. Only an estimated 6 percent of TVs in the U.S. can show 3-D programming, according to the latest statistics.

FIFA has sent questionnaires to rights holders to assess their interest in 3-D coverage for its showpiece tournament in Brazil next year.

"We are still reviewing whether we should do 3-D for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the number of matches," Ericson said.

Ericson said there is interest from "several broadcasters" to retain 3-D feeds but he added that FIFA is still "reviewing the cost of it."

The cost and inconvenience for consumers appears to have limited the appeal of 3-D televisions.

Viewers must wear so-called active shutter glasses, which are battery-powered and work by stopping the image to each eye alternately at a high rate.

"Whether this (limited appeal for 3-D) is temporary and this will come back in a few years in a new way we don't know," Ericson said.

"We are spending most of our efforts (on high definition coverage) and that's most important for us," he added.