Sky 3D channel launches

From Colin Mann in London

BSkyB launched its Sky 3D channel on Saturday April 3 with coverage of the high-profile English Premier League football match between top-of –the-table Manchester United and challengers Chelsea.

The service, currently available to some 1,500 pubs and clubs in the UK and Ireland, initially aired a showreel of the best of Sky 3D – which will cover a wide range of different programming, with a spinning 3D spectacle graphic counting down until 3D coverage of the game began. A special 3D advert from Sky commercial partner (and stereoscopic glasses sponsor) Guinness was shown before the match.

The pre-match build-up and half-time analysis was shared with Sky's 2D coverage, but a separate commentary team for the match reflected the differing choice of shots available to the production team. Much of the coverage seemed to replicate that of the 2D service (available on a nearby screen at the Press Launch venue), with certain cutaway shots designed better to convey depth and immediacy, such as regular reaction shots of the coaching bench, and along the pitch's touchline allowing the gap between players and officials more easily to be observed.

Saturday's game will be followed by a further game involving Manchester United on Sunday April 11, with one Premier League game per week until the end of the season in mid-May. Sky will then cover the lower League play-off finals at the end of the month. Later in the year, Sky 3D will offer a range of movies, sport, documentaries, entertainment and arts content. The channel will initially be introduced at no extra cost for customers who subscribe to Sky's top channels and HD pack.

Sky's director of product design and TV product development, Brian Lenz, confirmed that Sky would not be showing any 2010 football World Cup coverage in 3D, as it did not own such rights. Up to 25 matches from the tournament are to be made available following a deal between Sony Corporation and football's governing body FIFA to allow selected media rights of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in 3D. Viewers will be able to enjoy 3D experiences in seven cities around the world (Berlin, London, Mexico City, Paris, Rio De Janeiro, Rome, and Sydney) located within FIFA 'Fan Fests'.

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