Nine Moves to 3D for Rugby

Australia’s Nine Network said it will be the first terrestrial broadcaster in the world to offer 3D programming, as it announced plans to film and broadcast the annual National Rugby League State Of Origin series to viewers in 3D, from next month.

With the first game in the three-match series kicking off on May 26, Nine will be ahead of other broadcasters worldwide who are planning to offer matches from the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in June and July in 3D.

The State of Origin rugby league series is one of the highest-rated telecasts in the country each year. All three games in this year’s series will be broadcast in 3D. Nine has been planning the telecasts for some months with the assistance of local electronic goods retailer Harvey Norman, the NRL and the federal government. The government is providing digital terrestrial spectrum on a trial basis for the broadcasts.

“It’s early days of course because the technology is still developing, and its availability to consumers right now is limited. But 3D is about to arrive with a bang across the world, and the Nine Network and Harvey Norman want to pioneer the revolution in Australia,” Nine Network CEO David Gyngell said.

The broadcasts will use a trial broadcast license using spectrum temporarily allocated by the Federal Government, that will be established to allow consumers, retailers and manufacturers to experience live sporting events and other material. Nine is working with the Australian Communications and Media Authority and transmission service providers to extend the broadcasts beyond Sydney into other capital city markets.

Nine also said it is investigating high-quality proprietary encoding formats from companies such as 3ality Digital, RealD and Sensio to assess the best system for operation in cinema venues and free-to-air terrestrial broadcast.

TV manufacturers started bringing 3D capable digital TV’s into the country this month but its expected that audiences for the initial broadcasts will be largely in cinemas, pubs and clubs.

By Pip Bulbeck, The Hollywood Reporter