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LONDON: U.K. satellite TV provider BSkyB has confirmed it will launch its 3DTV service April 3, reports indicate. Pubs will be the initial subscribers. More than 1,000 have signed onto the service since a handful did a trial in January. Residential availability is planned for later this year.

The new 3DTV channel will be launched in time to cover the Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Chelsea. Sky will follow up the April 3 launch with five more Premier League games in 3D before the regular season ends in May, plus the play-off finals at the end of the month.

The April 3 launch date is one year and a day after Sky successfully transmitted live 3D content over its high-definition infrastructure. Sky then previewed the 3D service in January in pubs around the United Kingdom. The Jan. 31 soccer match between Arsenal and Manchester United was simulcast to nine pubs in London, Manchester, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Dublin that were outfitted with 3DTV sets. More than 1,000 pubs are now on board with more signing up as the soccer season heats up.

Programming on the 3D channel will at first be limited to the soccer matches and to a reel showcasing the service. It will eventually include movies, sports, documentaries and entertainment, provided free to BSkyB’s top-tier HD subscribers.

BSkyB originally intended to launch the 3D network last year, but no receivers were commercially available. Panasonic, LG, Samsung and Sony announced last week they would introduce 3DTVs into the U.K. market, possibly this month.
-- Deborah D. McAdams

(Image by Dave Amis)