FIFA announced last week, that the public viewing rights deal it had with Aruna Media to broadcast World Cup matches in 3D had been terminated, just a month before the beginning of the tournament.
In an abrupt statement FIFA revealed that ‘The exploitation of such rights is now being handled directly by FIFA.’ giving no explanation for the parting.
The termination of the deal, which was only agreed in April, means the UK will currently be unable to view any of the 3D broadcasts.
Whilst 25 matches will be filmed in South Africa using Sony’s 3D technology, England matches will only be filmed if theyreach the group winners stages, but the ability to broadcast them in the UK has been hampered by the newness of the technology and viewing rights.
Sony announced on Monday that 3D Pavillions have been set up in South Africa and six other countries across the world to watch the games, but London won’t be one of the cities to benefit.
Broadcast rights to all World Cup matches are shared between the BBC and ITV, but the only British broadcaster with the ability to show television in the 3D format is Sky.
The rights to broadcast the selected 3D matches in public places such as cinemas and other entertainment venues, the only option for viewers wishing to experience the event in 3D in the UK, is now in the sole hands of FIFA. The footballing federation however will not comment on what will happen to the rights or even if they are negotiating a deal with anyone else.
Aruna Media say they had already agreed licensing deals with 40 countries and have stated that they are ‘hoping to reverse FIFA’s unwarranted action such that its ground-breaking and unprecedented 3D Live global rollout can continue without delay.’
With just 2 Weeks to go before the first games, it’s looking less and less likely that matches will be shown in 3D in the UK.
FIFA agreed a deal with Sony late last year to film the 25 matches in the cutting edge 3D format. Sony technology will be used in the filming process which requires two cameras next to each other to record the same shot at the same time mimicking how our eyes work. They will also use multi-image processors to ‘automatically adjusts the depth-of-field to ensure an unprecedented and optimal 3D viewing experience.’
They have currently only agreed deals with four countries to Broadcast the matches; in the US with ESPN; Spain with Sogecable; in South Korea with SBS; and in Japan with Sky Perfect Jsat; whilst Sony’s 3D Experience Pavillions will show the games in three of the South African stadiums and the cities of Berlin, Mexico City, Paris, Rio, Rome and Sydney.
In January Sky created a 3D buzz, and made history, by broadcasting the first live 3D TV sports event to the public ahead of the the launch of 3D programming in April and a dedicated 3D channel in September. Nine pubs around the country were secretly chosen to show the Arsenal V Man Utd match to a selection of lucky football fans.
Over a thousand pubs across the UK and Ireland have now signed up to show 3D sports events, including more Premier League matches, the Coca-Cola championship play-off final as well as rugby games from the Guinness Premiership.
The Public broadcasting of events in 3D, particularly sporting ones, has been the main focus for Sky, largely due to 3D television sets having only recently become available for the public to buy from the likes of Sony, LG, Samsung and Panasonic. They also come with a hefty, though not entirely unrealistic, price tag. As with all new technology however, prices will drop, and the 3D channel will be available to current subscribers of Sky+HD packages and can be broadcast through the existing HD channel, making it more attractive to consumers and increasing take up.
Sky appear however, to be missing out on the perfect opportunity the World Cup presents to lead the way and really sell the wonders of 3D TV and its own 3D programming. They have just two short weeks to negotiate some kind of deal with FIFA, or, even more unlikely, the BBC and ITV, so that football fans in the UK can experience the future of TV.