Julian Clover sports 3D glasses for the launch of Europe’s first 3D TV channel
3D television has just been through its first major test in Europe. The launch of a dedicated channel that will screen a weekly football match to some 1,500 pubs and clubs across the UK.
Pubs, which through trade publications such as the Morning Advertiser, are often heard to complain about the perceived high prices of Sky’s retail offer finally have something to raise a glass to. Even if you can find a 3D television set to install in your living room, the Premier League games are being blanked out for the first few weeks to benefit the licensed trade. Sky even has a sponsor, Guinness building on its existing relationship with Sky Retail.
England’s [sic] love affair with football shows no sign of losing any air, so it should come as no surprise that Sky should officially launch its 3D channel with Manchester United and Chelsea. The broadcaster has spent the last 12 months or so experimenting with other genres, opera, ballet, cricket, rugby, but football is the sport that will get fans through the doors.
The assembled hacks wondered amongst ourselves whether football was actually the best sport to show off the capabilities of 3D. The fear of next season seeing topless Newcastle United supporters in all their stereoscopic glory uppermost in our minds.
The match coverage, from eight 3D cameras around Old Trafford, gave us long shots of the pitch as the ball moved towards either goal. When 3D came into its own was in the replays, when a close-up image could be used, without the need to move elsewhere or a simple shot of the manager’s dugout.
What 3D does is replicate the experience of the person sat in the front row, just that while you can’t get up and run to the other side of the ground to get that same image, 3D TV can do this for you without the need to avoid arrest.
But the question is whether 3D TV is a viable proposition at home. Forever astute, Sky will initially bundle in its 3D offer with the £10 fee already being paid for its HD package. Sky’s two million HD homes is the highest such total in Europe and must be down to quantity, close to 50 channels now, as well as quality. Other HD bouquets are not as large, so would the addition of 3D make people more likely to subscribe to such a package?
Then there is the question of 3D television displays. A friend of mine sent me details of a 3D presentation taking place at the Lord’s cricket ground. For £2,400 I could purchase a table from where I could see a live telecast of the final of the IPL. Alternatively the same money would buy me a 3D TV for my home. I’m not opting for either, just yet. 3D TV will need the purchase of a new TV, and like HD Ready before it, a set-top box. No wonder broadcasters are intent on using their installed base, and hopefully this time people will be able to tell whether or not they have a 3D picture on their 3D sets.