Sky became the first provider to broadcast any live event using digital 3D techniques over the weekend, when Manchester United’s 3-1 victory over Arsenal went out over the airwaves.
The match was not made widely available in 3D, however, because consumers have not actually got their hands on the necessary television technology quite as yet. The audience consisted of journalists and fans who watched it cloistered in the bowels of the Emirates stadium, as well as a few lucky punters who happened to have their local pub converted into a 3D viewing den in secret.
Everyone else will have to wait until April this year when the full 3D service from Sky goes live, although at the moment it will come at no extra charge to current Sky+ HD customers. All you need now is an HDTV set that supports 3D broadcasts.
Obviously the success of 3D TV will rely not just upon the technology being widely available and at prices similar to those of current HDTV sets, but on the 3D content itself being suitably impressive. Without that initial wow factor for viewers, 3D could be dead in the water as a home viewing experience before it has even had a chance to gain traction.
Reactions to Sky’s landmark 3D broadcast have been mixed. Journalists said that whilst Sky had clearly worked hard on its graphics and the accompanying promotional trailers, the match as a whole looked a little underwhelming.
However, live sport is not going to be the only 3D offering and it is likely to be 3D movies that draw the larger crowds in the long run.