Plan in motion for Europe's first 3D channel

BSkyB ramps up 3D facilities in anticipation of 2010 launch

Katzenberg: 3D coming to homes

LONDON -- BSkyB said Thursday that it would launch Europe's first 3D TV channel next year, carrying a mix of movies, live events, sports and entertainment programming.

The satcaster, which has run several successful trials of 3DTV played through its high-definition set-top boxes in the past six months, said viewers would require a new 3D-enabled TV set and would have to wear 3D viewing glasses.

The satcaster has also ramped up its 3D television production facilities, requiring high-definition 3D cameras, which use two lenses to film two separate images, one for the left eye and one for the right eye. The images are brought into focus by 3D glasses.

BSkyB is expecting the product to go on sale here next year, but access would be limited to BSkyB customers with HD boxes and a new television set. So far, 1.3 million Sky customers have HD boxes, but that number is growing fast, with over half a million HD subscriptions sold this year.

"3D is a genuinely 'seeing is believing' experience (and) next year we will make our HD boxes work even harder for customers by launching Europe's first 3D TV channel," said Brian Sullivan, managing director of Sky's customer group.

"(We are also) introducing a comprehensive video-on-demand service to complement Sky+ and the current Sky Anytime service," Sullivan added.

Media experts said the move was being driven by increasing numbers of 3D movies at the cinema.

"In 2009, the 3D movie should easily exceed a billion dollars at the boxoffice. In addition, as 3D grows in popularity at the movies, interest in the technology from the television sector will increase," said James Bates, Deloitte Media partner on 3D TV.

"A growing number of 3D television sets are likely to become available, adding to a small but growing installed base. An increasing number of DVDs offering 3D content may also become available in 2009, although domestic television sets capable of displaying these are likely to be few and far between," he added.