ESPN 3D kicks off the year of 3D TV. But will consumers buy in?

ESPN 3D is the latest move for a TV technology that's getting massive investment by retailers, governments, and content providers like Discovery.

Paul Rodriguez/Orange County Register/Newscom/File
University of Southern California fans watched a USC-Ohio State college football game in 3D this past September in Los Angeles. With the unveiling of ESPN 3D Tuesday, 3D TV got yet another boost. But will consumers be convinced?

What do the movie Avatar, the government of South Korea, and ESPN have in common? Massive investment in 3D technology.

ESPN announced Tuesday that it will show the Mexico-South Africa World Cup match on June 11 in 3D, its first broadcast on a new ESPN 3D network that will televise at least 85 live sporting events through the end of 2010.

ESPN says it has been testing the technology, debuted most famously in several theaters for a University of Southern California versus Ohio State football game in 2009, for two years.

The 3D world is getting crowded. James Cameron's mega-hit Avatar was born to box office glory in no small part by eye-popping 3D. The government of South Korea will invest $35 billion in 3D research over the next year. Sony, Imax and Discovery are set to announce a combined 3D channel at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Tuesday, where an abundance of 3D TVs and related technology are expected to be unveiled. The list goes on and on.

The possibility is a tantalizing one for many sports fans.

"Imagine the behind-the-pitcher view during a baseball game," tweeted Levi Spires.

But will consumers be willing to pay top dollar for new TVs? And what about the glasses?

"A new TV, higher monthly bill, and I have to wear goofy glasses 'round my house? Seriously?" tweeted Mike Rocco of Tulsa, Okla.

Many consumers never moved to high-definition (HD) technology and would probably be skeptical of making an even further – and more expensive – technology leap.

"Honestly, I still haven't upgraded to HD yet," tweeted Mike Nagel of New Hampshire. "TV just isn't that important. Doubt I'll go 3D when it's available.

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