Here's a quick math exercise to get the static resolution on ESPN's 3D broadcasts. Obviously the following exercise does not fully take into account the temporal advantages of 60 fps progressive scan acquisition or the obvious 3D stereoscopic effect, but bear with me.
ESPN starts out with 1280 by 720 resolution for their regular HD broadcasts. Because they use a top and bottom 3D technology, the image sent to each eye gets cut in half to 1280 by 360, or 460,800 pixels per eye per frame.
I'm going to make some assumptions that ESPN's 3D broadcast is similar to ESPN's HD broadcast. If I am wrong, someone please correct me. ESPN's HD broadcasts are composed for a 4:3 center cut. Any actual game content in the 16:9 side wings of the 4:3 center cut is there by accident. I will discount the appearance of actual content in the side wings as a serendipitous event. (It's like finding a dollar on the sidewalk when you are out for a walk: awfully pleasant, but pretty damned rare.
) Take away the extra content on the sides of a widescreen presentation and you get 1.33 divided by 1.78, or slightly less than 75% of the available screen content.
But wait, there's more! Or less, actually. ESPN's intrusive, opaque on screen graphics take up as much as one-third of the screen. Sure, there's some grass below the opaque update bar at the bottom of the screen, but the shots are composed with the actual content you want to see above the status bar. This leaves us with two-thirds of the remaining screen for the game that we are watching, rather than the other game that some guy elsewhere has bet money on. This gives us 2/3 times 3/4, or only half the available screen space actually intentionally composed for the football game that I wanted to watch rather than onscreen graphics and mostly unused 16:9 side wings.
Thus it would appear that a regular HD football game on ABC has only 460,800 remaining for the game that I actually wanted to watch. If ESPN 3D has frame composition and graphic intrusion comparable to ESPN HD, we are left with only 230,400 pixel per eye per frame. Keep in mind that 480 standard def, nominally 640 by 480, would offer 307,200 pixels in a 4:3 arrangement if they would keep the darn graphics off the screen. Compare this with the 2,073,600 pixel resolution of a full HD 1080p display!
In all seriousness, if ESPN 3D composes the frame for 16:9 displays and uses less intrusive graphics than ESPN HD I would love to hear about it. Even so, I would not expect less intrusive graphics to last for very long. It is hard to resist the demands of the lowest common denominator for dancing robots during their football games.