Soccer set to enter third dimension

World Cup to be testing ground for 3D TV

ROME — The 2010 soccer World Cup in South Africa will be the first significant testing ground for the spread of 3D TV in soccer-crazed Europe.

This logical prediction was made by Giuliano Berretta, prexy of European satellite operator Eutelsat, speaking at Sat Expo, Europe’s satellite telecommunications confab, which opened Thursday in Rome.

“The world of satellites and decoders is ready for 3D,” said Berretta. “Cinema is starting now and for TV it could take a bit longer; but the soccer World Cup will be its first real test.”

The tournament will run June 11-July 11 and is bound to impact this year’s summer cinema box office take in Europe.

The Eutelsat topper noted that the biggest hurdle for 3D TV is the cost of the TV sets, which in Europe go for roughly €2,000 ($2,700).

But Berretta said that soon there would be devices on the market that would allow a 3D TV signal to be beamed directly from new-generation digital decoders into active 3D glasses, making it possible to eliminate the need for an expensive 3D TV screen.

“There is no single solution to 3D TV technology, and the transition will take place gradually,” Berretta predicted.

While the World Cup will be the first major test for 3D TV in Europe, Berretta said there are already at least nine bars in Blighty equipped with 3D screens able to receive BSkyB’s 3D TV signal.

BSkyB beamed its first 3D soccer match to the bars on Jan. 31 on its Sky Sports channel (Daily Variety, Jan. 28). News Corp.’s paybox will bow a dedicated 3D channel for home consumption in April.

The U.S. won’t witness live sports in 3D until June, when ESPN broadcasts the World Cup tournament.

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