The French Open tennis tournament is being distributed live in 3D on a limited basis by Finnish cable operator Welho between May 23 and June 6. Welho, Finland's largest operator with some 320,000 subscribers, is in the midst of an ownership shuffle after parent company Sanoma announced its sale to the DNA telecom group May 31.
Nonetheless, the 3D demo is moving forward.
Only Welho retailers will be carrying the experimental broadcast, which is using 1080i HD side-by-side technology and being shown on Panasonic's 50-inch 3D plasma sets. All matches are being filmed with Panasonic 3D cameras and broadcast live via satellite by Eurosport. Welho downlinks the signal at its head end and retransmits it to its cable network, just like any other digital TV channel.
The Open is one of several sporting events Welho plans to transmit in 3D this year. The company says it will launch regular 3DTV broadcasts in its cable network as soon as commercially attractive content is available.
"Welho's network is ready for 3DTV broadcasts. We are excited with consumer product manufacturers' 3D launches, which, in turn, will pave the road for 3D content. There seems to be a number of interesting 3D content projects under way," says Kari Ruopsa, Vice President of Technology at Welho.
The 3DTV Live tennis distribution is the latest step in Welho's 3D roadmap towards full 3D broadcasting platform. Welho's first 3DTV pilot, an autostereoscopic demo loop, has been running on Welho's network since December 2009.
A number of U.S. operators have been aggressively trialing 3D of sporting events as well, with mixed results, FIFA plans to broadcast at least 30 World Cup matches live when the tournament begins later this month.
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