Eurosport Planning Regular 3D Channel

Eurosport is planning to launch a regular 3D channel as soon as practicable, according to Eurosport general director of distribution and development Jean-Thierry Augustin. “I don’t know if it will be in time for the Australian Open next year, but the facility to do so already exists at Eurosport,” said Augustin.

The plans build on the two-week 3D coverage of the French Open Tennis, currently underway in partnership with the manufacturer Panasonic. Augustin said that further 3D coverage of the US Open at the end of August was also a possibility. “Tennis is an obvious sport, there’s movement, and some depth,” he said. “3D makes Eurosport more attractive as a brand, which makes it good for the viewer and good for advertisers”.

The 12 Mbps side-by-side 3D signal is being uplinked via Eurosport’s facility in Paris to four satellite positions; the two SES-Astra slots at 19 and 28.5 degrees East, the Eutelsat Hot Bird (13 degrees East) and the Telenor position at One West. The feed is being presented without any commentary.

“We did HD so well that we can now afford to do another channel in 3D. We’re risk takers in technology and decided that this was the way to go,” said Augustin. Eurosport’s final decision to go ahead with 3D transmissions was only taken on February 15.

Eurosport’s venture into 3D follows a highly successful rollout of two HD channels. Eurosport 2 is already available in 890,000 households just 10 months after its launch and Eurosport HD has 5.2 million households. Poland in particular has proved strong for both channels with 793,000 households for Eurosport HD and 192,000 for Eurosport 2 HD. The UK (2.1 million) Norway (534,000), Sweden (171,000) and Denmark (199,000) have also proved happy hunting grounds.

The percentage of Native HD programming is also increasing, from 31% in 2008/09 to a projected 50% in 2010/11 with the majority of landmark events such as the Tour de France, French Open Tennis and the Le Mans 24 hour rally already in the format.

Telenor’s involvement in the broadcast from Roland Garros represents the first time the Nordic broadcaster has been involved in a 3D transmission. “3DTV provides a new level in engaging the viewer with TV content and is shaping the way we may watch and experience TV in the future,” said Cato Halsaa, Vice President and CEO of Telenor Satellite Broadcasting. “Satellite is a perfect platform for transmitting high-quality 3DTV signals because its ubiquity of coverage delivers 100% reach in chosen markets while its available spectrum provides unrivalled potential for DTH operators to immediately launch new services, like 3DTV, with unlimited capacity constraints.”

The Eurosport 3DTV signal on Thor 6 is encrypted and will be made available only to the closed group of Panasonic dealers across the region.

By Julian Clover, Broadband TV News