Eurosport to Pursue 3D Live Events but No Channel

Eurosport has confirmed plans to launch a 3D service in 2011 but states that this will be event-led and unlikely to be a full linear 3D channel. The sportscaster, owned by French media group TF1, could produce its next 3D experience around the Australian Open Tennis in January but believes there is not yet enough content, or demand, to justify a 24/7 channel.

Speaking to TVBEurope Eurosport’s Francois Schmitt, deputy managing director Broadcast and New Media said: “Over the next few months we aim to propose, if not a complete 3D channel, then a service based around key live events of the properties we own.”

These include the Grand Slam tennis tournaments Australian Open, French Open — during which Eurosport made its first foray into 3D transmissions earlier this year — and the US Open as well as the World Touring Car Championship.

“We are discussing how to develop different market offers with our rights holders,” he said.

“For every sport we have to test the concept of 3D because there won’t be the same recommendations to production for each one. 3D will have a different effect on each sport.”

The broadcaster would like to replicate the success it has had rolling out HD channels across Europe and has no intention of launching 3D as a loss leader. Last year it launched Eurosport 2, which is already available in over 890,000 households. Eurosport HD has 5.2 million households.

“When we launched into HD this was extra value for Eurosport in terms of distribution on different platforms and this has been a successful business. If there is no revenue associated with the cost of new technology then Eurosport has no interest in developing a 3D channel.”

Neither is 2D converted backcatalogue content an option for Eurosport. “Even though we know 3D conversion works and is acceptable you cannot consider a 3D channel launch if you only use upconversion,” said Schmitt. “If you want to create a real 3D channel you need native 3D. Eurosport is in any case built on live event sport.

“Since 3D productions require a separate production path, the cost is double that of HD right now — but we will work with others to obtain a high level of maturity for the technology and with that costs will come down.”

By Adrian Pennington, TVB Europe