UK’s Sky to launch 3-D TV channel in spring

Sky previewed its highly anticipated 3-D TV channel with a live soccer match on Sunday, Jan. 31, broadcasting a live signal of a Premier League game shot in 3-D and broadcast over the Sky satellite television platform to select pubs around the UK and Ireland. The company said it would officially launch Sky 3-D, Europe’s first dedicated 3-D TV channel, this April.

A total of nine pubs — located in London, Manchester, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Dublin — have been outfitted with 3-D-ready TV sets to watch the match. Viewers will have to wear special polarized glasses to view the broadcast.

Once 3-D TVs begin to reach the consumer market later this year, Sky 3-D will be available to all Sky+HD customers, giving millions of people the opportunity to watch a wide range of content in 3-D, including movies, sports, documentaries, entertainment and the arts.

Sky 3-D works with all existing Sky+HD boxes and will initially be introduced at no extra cost for customers who subscribe to Sky’s top TV package and the Sky HD pack. Sky 3-D will also be compatible with all 3-D-ready TVs coming to the UK and Ireland this year, including models from LG Electronics, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony.

For the historic 3-D broadcast, Sky Sports produced and simulcast two versions of its live coverage of Sunday’s game at the Emirates Stadium — one for its HD channel feed and another dedicated to 3-D. Eight specially engineered 3-D camera rigs featured 16 of Sky’s Sony HD cameras (two cameras per rig), providing stereoscopic coverage from all angles. The 3-D broadcast will be supported by a dedicated 3-D production team onboard a 3-D mobile production truck, which will facilitate live switching between camera positions, slow motion replays and on-air 3-D graphics. There will also be a dedicated commentary team to support the 3-D telecast.

Sky’s 3-D TV channel follows a number of 3-D “UK firsts” achieved over the last couple of years. In December 2008, Sky was the first UK broadcaster to demonstrate 3-D through a domestic TV. It then went on to broadcast an exclusive demonstration of a Keane gig in 3-D live over its satellite platform and offered the UK’s first live public demonstration of 3-D recorded performance of “Swan Lake” by the English National Ballet at the Hay Festival.