/ Technology

Sky’s 3D channel launch a washout

Sky 3D logo

Both Sky and Virgin launched 3D channels last week, but a lack of decent content turned viewing into a bit of a damp squib. So when will 3D content start living up to the promise?

Sky launched its 3D channel last week and golf’s Ryder Cup was scheduled to showcase all that the new dimension in TV had to offer. Unfortunately for Sky, the rain set in and the tournament’s opening day was dogged by bad weather and the ensuing interruptions.

It was bad news for Sky, bad news for golf and also a bad ad for 3D. When a cricket match is suspended due to bad weather, it’s easy for producers to dig out some archive footage to play in lieu. But as there aren’t any archived 3D clips lying around, viewers were instead subjected to interviews with players in a studio, filmed in 3D.

What’s Virgin got on offer?

It was hardly a compelling reason to don a pair of 3D goggles, and certainly not worth the £2,000 3D TV investment. Still, at least there was a 3D insect documentary and a little 3D Premier League football to enjoy, which is more than the 3D alternative from Virgin had to offer.

Virgin, unannounced until the very day, launched its 3D film on-demand service two days prior to the launch of Sky’s 3D channel. But perhaps the lack of brouhaha was indicative of the fact that there really was nothing to shout about.

Virgin’s initial 3D offering was StreetDance 3D for £5.99, with ‘blockbusters’ such as Garfield’s PetForce 3D and Despicable Me 3D set to follow in the coming months.

Don’t get your 3D glasses out yet

Complaining of the lack of decent 3D content is beginning to sound a bit like a scratched record, but it still rings true. And I wonder if there are any 3D TV owners out there who can yet say they’re pleased with their purchase.

I’ve seen some great content that’s better for being shot in 3D rather than 2D, but it’s quite thin on the ground. In time, I see 3D technology appearing on more reasonably-priced TVs, leading to an upward market penetration, however this won’t be indicative of its success.

How often people take the 3D specs out of their drawer will show its true worth, but with the current 3D film schedules and studio-based interviews, there’s little reason to do so right now.


The thing that seems so weird about these launches to me is that they seem unnecessarily early. You might say it’s a case of driving demand – that nobody will make 3D content until there are TVs capable of watching it, and that nobody will make TVs capable of watching it until there’s 3D content.

The reason this thinking is so misjudged is that clearly there is a vector for 3D content to be seen – it’s really taken off in the cinema recently – so 3D content is being made. The broadcasters could sit around and wait till there’s enough content available, and then launch a channel – or even just launch 3D VOD offerings with what there is.

Can anybody explain – apart from ‘being first’ – why the rush to launch 3D channels?

Herp Derp says:
4 October 2010

Herp di derp de diddly derp.

Help, we’ve been attached by an internet meme! Have you got anything of more value to add?

johpal says:
5 October 2010

Sky seem to think I’m going to be enticed to buy their “world” package for the privilege of seeing effectively standard definition, 3D pictures. Wrong! I may pay say, £1 extra for 3D movies, but I’m happy to save my cash and wait for the trickle of 3D blu-ray disks coming out between now and Christmas. Greedy Sky.

Now that every TV in the shop is HD and Sky has 50 HD channels, both the manufacturers and Sky need to find something new to support their growth. You can expect to see lots of failed features in the near future as they thrash about trying to find anything other than better content to attract the punter. Until the content owners/ rights holders stop strangling distribution that is, then there will be a rush of new content and access to that will be the new feature (and justify the new Sky package or TV supporting access). You can watch House just days after the US, why after? Ask the rights holder’s lawyer.

Jason Shouler says:
18 February 2011

I think I prefer VirginMedia’s approach of paying on demand for 3D films

It’s quite a saving on going to the cinema (far more so with a largish family) and it’s certainly very enjoyable!