The Rugby World Cup is com­ing, but don’t ex­pect 3D cov­er­age, writes Jen­nifer Dud­ley- Ni­chol­son

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page -

The Rugby World Cup snubs 3D TV.

THE year’s big­gest sport­ing event is one month away. More than one mil­lion tick­ets have been sold, teams from 20 coun­tries are in train­ing and fans are up­dat­ing their home cine­mas for the big event.

But while the Rugby World Cup is rais­ing TV sales and ex­pec­ta­tions, Aus­tralian view­ers will be un­able to watch matches us­ing the lat­est screen tech­nol­ogy.

Free-to-air chan­nels ap­pear to have aban­doned 3D TV tri­als, with broadcasting ex­perts con­firm­ing 3D trans­mit­ters have been re­moved from cap­i­tal cities across Aus­tralia. The move means that even though some RWC games will be filmed in 3D, the footage will not be screened here.

Me­dia an­a­lysts say it is in­dica­tive of a wider re­jec­tion of 3D TV broad­casts in Aus­tralia that may rel­e­gate the tech­nol­ogy to a ‘‘ fad’’, at least in the short term.

The RWC, which kicks off in New Zealand on Septem­ber 9, is ex­pected to be viewed by more than four bil­lion peo­ple world­wide. As such, or­gan­is­ers have signed up pro­duc­tion com­pany 3DLive to record se­lected matches in 3D. These in­clude the fi­nal, bronze fi­nal and semi-fi­nal matches, ac­cord­ing to Rugby World Cup Lim­ited chair­man Bernard La­pas­set.

‘‘ We are proud the Rugby World Cup can serve as a plat­form for ad­vanc­ing tech­nol­ogy and the view­ing ex­pe­ri­ence,’’ he says.

The matches will be filmed in 3D by 3DLive, a New Zealand firm, and pro­vided to all of­fi­cial broad­cast­ers, in­clud­ing Fox­tel and Chan­nel 9. De­spite this, nei­ther broad­caster plans to screen the matches in 3D.

The Aus­tralian Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Me­dia Au­thor­ity con­firmed no free-to-air chan­nels had ap­plied for a tem­po­rary 3D TV broadcasting li­cence, de­spite suc­cess­ful tri­als dur­ing last year’s State of Ori­gin and FIFA World Cup.

An ACMA re­view of 3D TV tests say fur­ther tri­als will re­main pos­si­ble un­til De­cem­ber. But it looks in­creas­ingly un­likely any chan­nel will ap­ply for a fresh li­cence af­ter broadcasting com­pa­nies con­firmed 3D TV trans­mit­ters had been re­moved from tow­ers in Aus­tralia’s cap­i­tal cities.

Broad­cast ONE man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Dar­ren Kir­sop-Frear­son says the trans­mis­sion equip­ment had been on loan and its re­moval sig­nalled the end of the broad­cast­ers’ plans to pur­sue 3D TV tri­als.

He says fu­ture 3D broad­casts are tech­no­log­i­cally pos­si­ble as the UHF spec­trum would re­main avail­able this year and the re­quired an­ten­nas re­mained in place.

‘‘ The trans­mit­ters have been re­moved but they could be re­placed,’’ Kir­sopFrear­son says.

‘‘ There is a chan­nel cur­rently avail­able in all of the cap­i­tal cities that was used last year to broad­cast 3D TV tri­als. Tech­ni­cally it can be done.’’

Fur­ther­more, a Fox­tel spokesper­son con­firmed the com­pany ‘‘ has no plans to broad­cast any matches from the Rugby World Cup in 3D’’, de­spite the avail­abil­ity of the Fox Sports 3D chan­nel.

The news will likely come as a shock to 3D TV own­ers, many of whom pur­chased their ad­vanced screens in an­tic­i­pa­tion of fur­ther 3D TV broad­casts.

Aus­tralians spent more than $ 361 mil­lion on 3D TVs be­tween March last year and Fe­bru­ary this year, ac­count­ing for more than 13 per cent of all TV sales, GfK Re­tail and Tech­nol­ogy finds.

The re­search firm also re­ports 3D TV sales are ac­cel­er­at­ing in the coun­try, with a 301 per cent in­crease in sales from Septem­ber on­wards. Com­pa­nies in­clud­ing LG, Pana­sonic, Sony and Sam­sung are heav­ily pro­mot­ing the tech­nol­ogy.

But Fu­sion Strat­egy me­dia an­a­lyst Steve Allen says free-to-air chan­nels are hes­i­tant to sign up for more 3D TV tri­als due to per­cep­tions that take-up has been slow.

‘‘ It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg sce­nario,’’ Allen says.

‘‘ The prob­lem for tele­cast­ers is that 3D is all very in­ter­est­ing but it costs a lot more to tele­cast, so un­til there’s a big de­mand they’re not go­ing to do it.

‘‘ There’s no clam­our­ing by the pub­lic for 3D broad­casts – you’d get emails and you’d get calls.’’

Allen says the prob­lem is also an eco­nomic one be­cause Aus­tralian tele­vi­sion net­works are not ‘‘ writ­ing record prof­its’’ and do not see 3D broad­casts as a way to sig­nif­i­cantly boost rat­ings.

He says it may take lead­er­ship from Amer­i­can TV pro­gram-mak­ers to have an im­pact on 3D trans­mis­sions here, as weekly or daily 3D TV shows would give view­ers a rea­son to tune in reg­u­larly.

‘‘ Ob­vi­ously with the amount of 3D films in the pipe­line there’s a chance that there’ll be some­thing to watch in 3D, but films are no longer a sta­ple of TV view­ing,’’ Allen says.

‘‘ My feel­ing is that 3D was a fad and it has stalled.

‘‘ It may pick up again but that’s not go­ing to change in the short-term.’’

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