World Cup 2010 to be Broadcast in 3D

Football fans could be watching World Cup matches next year live and in 3D in plans being drawn up by FIFA, writes Adrian Pennington exclusively for TVB Europe. FIFA TV, the broadcasting division of the sports governing body, is working with World Cup host broadcaster HBS and official FIFA sponsor Sony to broadcast live stereoscopic feeds of as many as 32 of the 64 tournament games.

The project has yet to be officially greenlit, but 3D stereo recording of at least some of the World Cup matches are highly likely with FIFA understood to be keen to see extensive 3D coverage, over and above the production of select 3D footage for archive. Discussions include the practicalities of transmitting games to large screen venues such as cinemas for paying customers or outdoor fanzones (where factors such as the distribution of glasses come into play) with the main stumbling block centring around the financing of the project.

HBS, the logical candidate to be tasked with producing the coverage, would be able to draw on its experience of 3D broadcasts of the 2008 IIHF World Championship in Canada and the Lyon vs. Paris Saint-Germain soccer match broadcast over the Orange cable network in April. The Swiss subsidiary of Infront Sports & Media is contracted to produce the broadcasts for all French Ligue1 matches and would likely perform test shoots on matches between now and June to hone its editorial production. At least 30 dual rigs will be needed for the tournament with 6-7 rigs deployed per game.

A source close to the production said: "The biggest challenge is not so much technical as editorial. We don't want to waste the opportunity by producing second class 3D. We're insistent that in seven months time we need a 3D production as good as 2D otherwise no-one will watch it. We are setting the bar high."

HBS chief executive, Francis Tellier, told an audience at sports fayre Sportel last month: "It must be a commercial application to get revenues."

A Sony spokesperson confirmed that it is talking with FIFA about the project. The company is also readying a series of Bravia 3D home displays for release in 2010.

By Adrian Pennington, TVB Europe