Japan Plans 3D Broadcasts as Sony Preps 3D Truck

Television broadcasting in 3D took a couple of steps further towards reality on Wednesday when Japan joined the list of countries planning to launch the new format and Sony said it will soon deliver a truck equipped to broadcast 3D programming on the go.

Japan's Sky Perfect Communications plans to launch 3D broadcasting in the middle of this year with two to three programs per month, it said Wednesday. The announcement adds Japan to the list of countries planning to launch 3D broadcasting this year at about the same time compatible televisions begin appearing on the market.

Earlier this month ESPN, Discovery Channel and Sony said they would launch 3D channels in the U.S. during 2010. British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) is also planning to launch a 3D channel for viewers in the U.K. and Ireland and South Korea's SkyLife is also testing the format. Other broadcasters such as Australia's Foxtel are yet to announce firm plans but have expressed interest in 3D programming.

Sports, movies and gaming are the genres through which the industry expects 3D will become popular in the living room so most of the early TV content will be focused on sports and movies.

Hollywood is taking care of the movies with titles like "Avatar," which has become the highest grossing movie of all time with a box office total of US$1.9 billion to date. Movie-studio Fox said over 70 percent of sales came from 3D showings of the movie.

Programmers might get an early taste of the appetite for 3D sports in June when the World Cup kicks off in South Africa. Sony plans to broadcast up to 25 of the games in 3D and will produce and distribute a 3D film of the World Cup after the event.

On Wednesday Sony said its professional broadcasting unit had won a second order for a 3D-capable outside broadcasting truck.

The latest order is for a truck to be delivered in April to BSkyB for use covering sports and other live events. Earlier this month Sony said it would supply a similar truck to U.S.-based producer All Mobile Video.

Several major consumer electronics companies including Sony and Panasonic have said they plan to launch 3D-compatible television sets during 2010. The sets will be able to handle conventional 2D programming and be switched into 3D mode when suitable programs are transmitted. The first Blu-ray Disc players capable of 3D are also due out this year and Sony has promised to provide a software upgrade to its PlayStation 3 that will add 3D gaming capability.

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