BSkyB going 3D for 2010

Chris Forrester

BSkyB, on top of record results, says it will be building up its HDTV offering to more than 50 channels. Sky also says it will launch Europe’s first dedicated 3D HD-stereoscopic channel next year.

In the next step in what the broadcaster described as “the Sky HD journey”, Sky has confirmed it will launch the UK’s first 3D channel next year. The channel will offer a broad selection of the best available 3D programming, which is expected to include movies, entertainment and sport. The service will be broadcast across Sky’s existing HD infrastructure and be available via the current generation of Sky HD set-top boxes. To watch 3D, customers will also require a new '3D Ready' TV, which are expected to be on sale at lower prices in the UK next year.

Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch said Sky would add even more HDTV channels before the end of the year. “We think we can get to 40 or 50 and beyond,” he said. “Importantly, the HDTV box that we’re putting into customers’ homes is a box that we can innovate from. So we can add more services, more value to the subscription over time.

Sky’s 3D commitment follows extensive research and development activity into 3D, which included Sky becoming the first TV company in Europe to broadcast a live event in 3D TV. On April 2 2009 Sky successfully broadcast a performance by Keane live from Abbey Road Studios via the company’s satellite network to a Sky HD set-top box and domestic 3D Ready TV.

Sky has also confirmed the launch of a comprehensive ‘pull’ video-on-demand (VOD) service next year, to provide Sky HD customers with additional choice and control to complement the current Sky Anytime ‘push’ VOD service. This new service will use the broadband capability of existing Sky HD boxes.

Brian Sullivan, MD of Sky’s Customer Group, said: “Well over a million homes have future-proofed themselves with Sky HD, a platform for choice, quality and future innovation. With Sky as standard, our customers are already enjoying amazing picture and sound quality on a range of high-quality HD channels which cater to the interests and passions of the whole family.

“Next year we will make our HD boxes work even harder for customers by launching Europe’s first 3D TV channel, as well as introducing a comprehensive video-on-demand service to complement Sky and the current Sky Anytime service. 3D is a genuinely ‘seeing is believing’ experience, making TV come to life as never before. Just like the launch of digital, Sky and HD, this is latest step in our commitment to innovating for customers.”

Sky launched the UK’s first national HD service in May 2006 which has since become Europe’s most successful HD service. Today Sky HD customers can watch 33 HD channels. Further channels are due shortly, including ESPN HD (August 2009), and Sky News HD (Spring 2010), with a view to growing the offering to 50 channels.