Interview: Chuck Pagano talks ESPN 3D, mobile streaming

Darren Murph
D. Murph|06.12.10

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Interview: Chuck Pagano talks ESPN 3D, mobile streaming
During our time at ESPN's headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut this past week, we were able to peek inside every nook and cranny of the company's technological side. We discovered some pretty remarkable things about the culture and attitude toward innovation, and while the bulk of that discovery will be seen in a forthcoming Engadget Show segment, we couldn't help but share some insight from a kind fellow who has been deeply involved in the blinking lights portion of ESPN from day one. We sat down for a brief one-on-one interview with Chuck Pagano -- ESPN's executive vice president of technology -- following the outfit's 3D launch, and while we were both bitter over the 1-1 result in the South Africa vs. Mexico match, he was understandably excited about the future of his firm's latest channel. For Chuck's take on 3D, the move to HD and the impending arrival of ESPN streams on your phone, be sure to grab your best reading glasses and .

Chuck stated that ESPN first started taking the whole 3D idea seriously around four years ago, and while the FIFA World Cup feed isn't being shot / directed by ESPN, it's hard to turn down 25 live events in 3D that the entire world will take interest in. He noted that while DirecTV, Comcast and AT&T are signed on at launch, deals are in the works with "all available options" in the US; outside of America, he confessed that the company "isn't looking at anything internationally right now."

Naturally, we had to ask if ESPN would be taking advantage of having the entire slate of 2011 BCS bowl games on its network next year, but as of now, "only the BCS final" is planned for a 3D broadcast. Given Chuck's history with the company (he's still got a crack in his skull from his father when deciding to leave a "cushy" job to help launch ESPN... or so he says), we asked if there were any major differences between ESPN 3D's launch and the debut of ESPN HD. "Without any big errors," Chuck stated when referring to this week's 3D reveal, while he's still trying to shake nightmares from the kickoff of HD. In fact, he jokingly affirmed that he "never wants to live through that again," though he certainly appreciates the "relatively picture perfect" nature of ESPN 3D's first broadcast.

We were also taken by his stance on 3D's place in the world; pundits the world over have questioned the need for 3D in the home, with many individuals finding that high definition telecasts in 2D are simply good enough. We specifically asked when ESPN's own internal programming (SportsCenter, etc.) would be transitioning to 3D, and the fact of the matter is that it may never happen. According to Chuck: "Not everything is going to be good in 3D, so we have to figure out if studio shows make sense." He's obviously sold on 3D in the "live event space," but we wouldn't be shocked to see it stall there for awhile.

Departing from 3D, we straight-up asked as to whether we'd soon see " for the phone," or a way to enable mobile consumers to view live feeds from ESPN. Chuck's response? "It's a discussion at this stage, but if I were to bet, I'd imagine at some point we'll be talking about that space in the not too distant future."

Now, if only we could somehow get ESPN a la carte to our televisions each month, we could finally ditch those other 800 unwatched channels on our cable lineup and live a life free of frustration. Hear us out, Chuck.
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