Murdoch's U.K. channel looks to boost subscriptions

Rupert Murdoch’s Blighty satcaster BSkyB will bow its much-hyped 3D network on Oct. 1 — and it’s banking on Hollywood to help drive subscription numbers.

The movie lineup for launch weekend includes “Bolt” and “Monsters vs. Aliens,” while features in the run-up to Christmas are headed by “Alice in Wonderland,” “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” “Coraline,” “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” and “My Bloody Valentine.”

News Corp.’s pay box said it had deals with Disney, Fox, Universal, Warner Brothers, Paramount and DreamWorks to “showcase the very best of Hollywood in 3D.” However, it remains to be seen whether there is enough fare to fill an entire channel despite the satcaster’s calls to local shingles to scale up production in 3D.

Other programming includes live coverage of golf’s Ryder Cup and English Premier League soccer. Sky Arts is working on a 3D production with the English National Ballet, but it isn’t known when this will air.

“As with high definition, 3D is set to transform the way TV is enjoyed in homes,” BSkyB CEO Jeremy Darroch said. “Following hot on the heels of the success of 3D cinema, Sky customers will now be the first anywhere in Europe to experience 3D TV from the comfort of their living rooms.”

Sky 3D will be available to subscribers who take the pay box’s most expensive package — at this stage there will be no extra charge.

A version of the channel focusing on soccer has been available to commercial subscribers since April. BSkyB said 1,500 pubs and clubs had signed up for it. TVs in 3D retail at about x 1,800 ($2,800) plus $234 for a pair of glasses.

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