Sky Eyes New Year Launch for 3D TV

Sky could launch its 3D TV channel as soon as next spring, according to executives. Sky Sports head of operations Darren Long told Broadcast: “We’re looking at launch early next year depending on whether everything goes well with our test broadcasts.”

The channel will schedule a mix of sports, arts, entertainment and documentary programming, topped up with premium pay-per-view events. Sky subscribers would require new 3D TV sets to view the service. Although manufacturers including JVC, Hyundai, Sony and Panasonic are bringing 3D TVs to market, Sky will initially launch the service into commercial premises to build momentum.

“We intend to go to pubs and clubs first to generate revenue and awareness,” said Brian Lenz, BSkyB Director of Product Development. “We need people to experience it and understand that HD3D is not anaglyph 3D. We hope to be able to make a launch decision shortly and come to the market when we think it makes the biggest impact.”

This could mean a launch into homes around July next year which heralds not only the start of the 2010-11 Premiership football season but a first opportunity for Sky Box Office customers to watch Avatar, the sci-fi feature produced by News Corp’s Fox film studio. Avatar is released on December 18. Theatrical releases typically receive an eight month window after cinema release before they launch on pay per view.

Sky has spent a week testing live 3D broadcasts of the ATP Tennis tournament at the O2 Arena. It will next cover Fulham Football Club’s home game against Sunderland in 3D and a training ground match where more cameras can be used without interfering with any live coverage.

By Adrian Pennington, Broadcast