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Australia: Nine airs Rugby Live in Terrestrial 3DTV

Rugby certainly does not get as much attention on the planet as soccer, but its loyal fans number in the millions — and it got a major boost, no doubt, from the recent Matt Damon-Morgan Freeman movie "Invictus." Now the sport is going 3DTV on a limited basis, at least down under.

Nine Network Australia has begun offering what it says is a "first" for sports viewers anywhere as it telecasts the Harvey Norman State of Origin rugby league tournament live in 3D on free terrestrial TV. Ericsson is providing video processing equipment for the three-match series.

Nine said bringing 3D to terrestrial television "presents obvious challenges in terms of available bandwidth." Ericsson has sent a team to Australia to help deliver the cutting-edge coverage using H.264 MPEG-4 encoding. Besides using Ericsson's latest HD encoder (EN8190), Nine also is using Ericsson receivers (RX8200), and its multiplexer (MX8400) for the 3D telecasts.

While the rugby matches may be the first 3D sports broadcast of its kind to air anywhere on terrestrial television, exactly how many Aussie viewers can take advantage of the telecasts remains unknown, but no doubt it's extremely low. (Presumably most viewers will view the matches at pubs and other social venues, but Nine didn't specify.)

The first match was played on May 26, and the remaining contests are set for June 16 and July 7.