Explosive growth in Sky+ high definition (HD) has propelled satellite broadcaster BSkyB to go a step further and it is planning to launch three-dimension (3D) television in the UK next year.
Sky said yesterday that the number of customers choosing Sky+HD has increased to 1.313 million following record growth. It says 90 customers an hour are joining the Sky+ HD service.
In the next step in the Sky+HD journey, Sky yesterday said 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 in the UK next year.
This 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 2nd April 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 Sky+ and the current Sky Anytime ‘push’ VOD service. This new service will use the broadband capability of existing Sky+HD boxes.
“Well over a million homes have future-proofed themselves with Sky+HD, a platform for choice, quality and future innovation,” Brian Sullivan, managing director of Sky’s Customer Group said.
“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,” Sullivan said.
Sky launched Ireland and 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 from leading brands such as Sky Movies, Sky Sports, Channel 4, Disney, MTV, BBC, Discovery, FX, Sky1 and National Geographic. Sky+HD customers can choose up to 400 hours a day – or 13,000 hours a month – of quality HD content, which is significantly more than any other TV platform.
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 over time.
By John Kennedy