This USA Today article about coming ESPN 3D broadcasts is a bellwether of the progress of 3D home-video technology. It’s the first significant step (money talks, bullshit walks) and a reassurance that watching 3D movies at home isn’t that far off.

ESPN 3D camera operator

I personally can’t wait. I want the 3D option on every decent film ever made, including Way Down East and Triumph of the Will and Slim. As long as it’s Avatar-level 3D, I’m good to go. It goes without saying I would have no problem wearing 3D glasses at home — nobody would. Rayban will come out with special 3D glasses that will look cool in any environment. Wear them to the market, during sex, whatever.

In all seriousness, the idea of watching dimensionalized versions of Citizen Kane, All Fall Down, Betrayal, Ben-Hur, Viva Zapata, To Catch A Thief, Titanic and El Cid on my 60″ 3D-capable plasma (i.e., the one I’ll buy three or four years from now) gives me goosebumps.

“ESPN is going 3D,” USA Today‘s Edward C. Baig wrote. “The venerable sports network will launch ESPN 3D on June 11 with a World Cup soccer match, creating what it says will be the first all three-dimensional television network to the home.

“ESPN 3D expects to showcase at least 85 live sporting events during the first year. There’ll be no reruns initially, so the network will be dark when there’s no 3D event. Among other events planned for 3D broadcast: the Summer X Games (extreme sports), NBA games, college basketball and college football.

Viewers will “need a more expensive 3D-capable television such as those that industry heavyweights will show off this week in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). They’ll also have to wear special 3D glasses.

“Consumer Electronics Association CEO Gary Shapiro says the ESPN 3D announcement parallels where HDTV was six years ago. ‘This is a turning point for 3D,’ he says.

Paul Liao, CEO of the CableLabs consortium of cable operators, says that while 3D movies are paramount to the success of 3D in the home, live sports ‘will engage the consumer to a degree that has been unprecedented.’

“There are challenges. You may need a new set-top box to watch 3D. It’s unclear if you’ll have to pay a premium. ESPN says it expects deals with distributors will be in place prior to launch.”