- Associated Press - Thursday, November 4, 2010

NEW YORK (AP) - People who watched ESPN’s 3-D telecasts of the World Cup initially complained of headaches and eyestrain, but both decreased over time.

The network announced its 3-D research Thursday from its telecasts in June and July. It involved over 1,000 testing sessions.

ESPN said that the headache and eyestrain increased during the first half of games, then dropped off following each 15-minute halftime break. While they decreased after the first day during five-day tests, they didn’t drop off among those who watched 270 minutes of soccer in one-day tests.

There was no evidence of nausea or dizziness. Research showed fans had a higher level of enjoyment watching 3-D than traditional 2-D and had better brand recognition of advertisers.

It was unclear whether the headaches and strain were related to watching the continuous 45-minute action of a soccer half, which doesn’t have the natural breaks that other sports do.

“Is that trend going to happen for basketball? Is that trend going to happen for football?” said Duane Varan, a professor of new media at Murdoch University, who conducted the testing at the Disney Media and Ad Lab in Austin, Texas.

As for how long one should watch before taking a 15-minute break, Varan said: “We don’t know the answer to that question yet”

While ESPN’s 3-D coverage potentially was available to 62.5 million households, the network doesn’t know how many 3-D televisions are being used in the United States, ESPN vice president of strategic business planning and development Bryan Burns said.

Sets from five manufacturers were used in the testing. ESPN said that people with worse depth perception enjoyed the 3-D experience more.

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