SkyLife to Begin 3D Broadcast

SkyLife, a Korean satellite television provider, plans to start 3D broadcasts of some live sports events in May, the company's chief executive said Tuesday. With an investment of some 5 billion won, the local provider will work to ensure that its cameras, switchers and other production equipment are up to the task by then, SkyLife CEO Lee Mong-ryong said at a press conference in Seoul.

"Most of the budget will be used to buy the necessary equipment for the broadcasts. From May, we will have some live sports coverage and will expand the time span of 3D content to seven hours a day," Lee said.

3D content will be available this year from ESPN, DirecTV, BSkyB, SkyLife and other broadcasters and providers. ESPN, for example, is expected to broadcast 85 games in 3D this year. In addition, a California-based market research firm, iSuppli Corp. expects 40-50 video game titles in 3D to be released this year.

Citing challenges involved with converting 2D content into 3D, the top executive said it will inject more resources to secure more content. SkyLife plans to strike content partnerships with major Hollywood companies including Disney and DreamWorks.

Content protection system provider Nagravision will supply its Nagra Media Access system to SkyLife. SkyLife will use the system to secure its new high-definition (HD) platform. Alongside the introduction of HD, the cooperation with Nagravision also aims to cover services including hybrid satellite/Internet-based television and 3D services.

The executive has opened discussions with Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics and Fuji Film for joint investment in increased 3D programming. Lee said it will provide 3D movies to subscribers based on video-on-demand (VOD) with content from upcoming partnerships. SkyLife officials say the company will provide 10 recent movies per week to set-top boxes. The service will be available in the latter half of this year.

The multi-channel digital satellite broadcaster is developing new technology, helping subscribers who have over 60Hz regular LCD or LED-backlit LCD TVs watch 3D programs without buying 3D-only TV sets.

"If we continue on this path, SkyLife is positive about launching two more 3D-only channels by 2012," according to the CEO.

SkyLife is aiming for 3 million subscribers by the end of this year and 5 million by 2012, the year when South Korea completes the transition to digital television. When asked about any expected drawbacks, Lee said the provider will charge more for 3D programs. Currently, it charges between 12,000 and 14,000 won to its customers for HD bundled packages.

By Kim Yoo-chul, The Korea Times