Runaway Train helps launch 3D TV

Golf’s Masters Tournament to Be Broadcast in 3D

March 15 (Bloomberg) — Comcast Corp. will broadcast next month’s Masters Tournament in 3-D on a special dedicated channel, marking a first for golf and capitalizing on the growing popularity of the format spurred by films like “Avatar.” Comcast, the largest U.S. cable-television provider, will assist with production and provide 3-D distribution of the tournament, golf’s first of four annual majors, the company said on its Comcast Voices blog. RunawayTrain Productions is working on a promo video announcing the channel to be shown on Comcast’s OnDemand product.

Subscribers who have a 3-D-enabled TV or personal computer will be able to watch two hours of 3-D coverage a day on Comcast’s Masters channel when the tournament airs next month, The effort marks the first live 3-D broadcast of a major sporting event on TV. CBS Corp. and Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN, which share coverage of the tournament, will continue to broadcast in 2-D, said Steve Ethun, a spokesman for Augusta National Golf Club. The U.S. PGA Tour, the world’s largest golf circuit, experimented with 3-D production at the Sony Open in January. The 3-D feed wasn’t available to viewers at the time. Sony Corp. will sponsor and provide the technology and on-course cameras for the Masters 3-D broadcast, tournament officials said in a press release.

Comcast is joining a growing list of companies that are ramping up 3-D offerings as consumer demand for the technology grows. ESPN plans to start a 3-D channel in June. Discovery Communications Inc., Sony and Imax Corp. have said they’re creating a venture to introduce a channel in 2011. DirecTV said it’s embracing the technology and has plans to introduce three 3-D channels in June.“We’ve been experimenting with different holes and camera angles, and so far the test footage looks fantastic,” Derek Harrar, Comcast’s senior vice president of video, said in an interview.

U.S. box-office sales set a record last year, boosted by the 3-D epic “Avatar,” the highest-grossing movie of all time. “Alice in Wonderland,” the 3-D version of Lewis Carroll’s tale, topped the box office the past two weeks, bringing in $208.6 million in ticket sales for Disney.

Sony, Samsung Electronics Co. and Panasonic Corp. are introducing 3-D TVs this year. The portion of U.S. households that will have a 3-D television set in four years will rise to 45 percent from 3 percent this year, according to U.K.-based research firm Futuresource Consulting.

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