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World Cup Drives Demand for HD; Jury's Out on 3D

ZÜRICH, SWITZERLAND: The 50-day countdown to the first match in this year’s FIFA World Cup began today, and British retailers are seeing an upswing in sales of digital television equipment.

Simplifydigital, a comparison service for digital TV, broadband and home phone deals in the United Kingdom, reports that over the past week it has seen a 75 percent increase in customers looking to have HDTV services installed. The World Cup, as well as other major sporting events, is seen as a primary driver.

“Our sales experts take thousands of calls each week from potential digital TV customers, and there is no doubt that customers are now looking to getting organized for a long summer of sport—with the interest in high definition TV rising sharply in recent days,” Simplifydigital CEO Charlie Ponsonby said.

Digital set-top box manufacturer Pace similarly is expecting a significant boost in sales during the first half of 2010 due to the World Cup, as well as the global trends toward HDTV.

Pace CEO Neil Gaydon told the Financial Times that the World Cup would act as an advertisement for HDTV, boosting sales even after the tournament is decided.

While HDTV seems to be getting a boost from the World Cup, the next big thing in television, 3DTV, is finding uptake to be going more slowly.

FIFA has struck three agreements for World Cup matches to be televised in 3D, although federation officials told the Financial Times that it has received inquiries from broadcasters in 25 nations about 3D broadcasts and more deals are expected before the first match on June 11.

Currently only ESPN in the United States, Sogecable in Spain and SBS in South Korean plan to carry matches in 3D. British rightsholders ITV and the BBC have said that they do not intend to air matches in 3D.