British pay TV company takes next step in 3D

By Dow Jones Newswires
Posted July 28, 2010 at 2:14 p.m.

British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC Wednesday confirmed it plans to launch a 3D television channel for consumer subscribers Oct. 1.

BSkyB, the U.K.’s biggest pay-television provider, said customers who pay for its top-tier subscription package and have Sky + high-definition compatible set-top boxes  would get the 3D channel free of charge. The company may later allow  subscribers on lower-cost packages to obtain the service, a spokesman said.

The move represents an attempt by BSkyB to capitalize on an early success with 3D television. This year, it launched a 3D channel to pub and club customers, primarily for sports such as soccer, cricket and darts. More than 1,500 pubs and clubs have the service, a spokesman said.

The launch ensures that BSkyB will be able to get the consumer-focused service ready before the holiday buying season.

The 3D service will allow customers to watch a broader range of content including movies and arts in 3D. BSkyB said launch weekend 3D highlights would include the Ryder Cup golf tournament and TV debuts of movies “Bolt” and “Monsters vs Aliens.”

More than 2.5 million households have Sky + high-definition boxes, a spokesman said, from a total of 9.8 million households.

BSkyB is approximately 39.1 percent controlled by News Corp., publisher of this newswire. News Corp. recently made an offer for the 61 percent of  it doesn’t own. But BSkyB said the bid undervalues the company. The two sides are in discussions with regulators about securing antitrust approvals for a deal, which could take months.

BSkyB competes with Virgin Media Inc.  and BT Group PLC’s BT Vision service.

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