Sky TV last night outlined its vision for 3D, insisting collaboration between the television and games industries plus hardware manufacturers would drive uptake of the new standard, launching later this year.
Speaking at a Sky-sponsored event at BAFTA in central London, Sky Arts channel director John Cassy argued that, unlike the advent of HD there was "no format war" with 3D, with "everyone behind it this time – games makers, broadcasters, producers and manufacturers".
Responding to a question from GamesIndustry.biz on whether Sky would be targeting gamers as key early adopters of the new technology, Stuart Murphy, director of programming for Sky 1 HD, Sky 1, 2 and 3, hailed the firm's existing relationship with Microsoft – with Sky Player available to Xbox users – and suggested Sky would be keen on "working super-closely with the games industry", though the broadcaster had "yet to work out" its strategy.
The day-long event featured workshops for the TV industry, including a demonstration by Ubisoft of its 3D Avatar game, based on the record-breaking James Cameron movie.
Hosting the evening panel session, Sky News presenter Martin Stanford called for a "spirit of collaboration" amongst all content creators to help drive 3D. Following a call from Sky executives for 3D content pitches, Stanford added: "Help us make the UK a centre of excellence for 3D production".
The broadcaster, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, also took a swipe at the BBC, with Murphy, former controller of BBC 3, stating: "The BBC chat for 90 percent of the time and do for 10 percent," while Sky did the opposite.
During the presentation, Sky made a series of impressive 3D demonstrations to the audience, including football, rugby, tennis, golf, cricket and athletics from Sky Sports, and a production of Swan Lake by Sky Arts.
Sony is also betting heavily on 3D, with internal studios already working on 3D-enabled software for PlayStation 3, demonstrated at last month's CES in Las Vegas, while its movie division, Sony Pictures, has announced the release of the first 3D Blu-ray movies later this year. 3D support for developers is meanwhile expected to be included in the next PS3 firmware update. Bravia 3D HDTVs are also due this year.
The recent upgrade to HD-ready sets by many consumers is seen in some quarters as a significant obstacle to the adoption of the new 3D standard, but Sky's Cassy remained buoyant, claiming hardware prices were "much lower than I'd imagined".
Sky is scheduled to launch 3DTV to subscribers later this year. The firm said existing Sky HD boxes would be compatible but consumers would need to upgrade to a 3D-supporting television to take advantage.
Murdoch's News Corp. has already invested heavily in 3D, with an estimated $300m spent on Avatar by its 20th Century Fox studio, the investment so far paying off with global box office receipts in excess of an unprecedented $2.3bn as of February 14th.