More high definition content to be embed by the new satellite launched for Direct TV

DIRECTV said that a new satellite which is been launched this week will increase its in-orbit capacity for delivering high-definition TV content by 50 percent to more than 200 channels. Industry observers speculate that at least some of the channels will be used to deliver films in a high-definition 3-D format.

"With the successful launch of our DIRECTV 12 satellite, we will have the capacity to dramatically expand HD and movie choices for our customers and further extend our content and technology leadership," said DIRECTV Chief Technology Officer Romulo Pontual.

Blue-Ray 3-D

DIRECTV is not expected to comment further on its HDTV plans until next week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where 3-D television is expected to emerge as the next big development in consumer electronics. Sony is already gearing up to bring the latest Hollywood 3-D blockbusters to home TV screens. Earlier this month, Sony announced a partnership with RealD — which closely participated in the development of successful 3-D films such as Avatar and Beowulf.

As part of the deal, Sony has licensed RealD’s immersive stereoscopic format, 3-D eyewear, and related technologies. "Sony has its proprietary LCD panel driving technology to reproduce full HD 3-D images on the screen of new Bravia LCD TVs, which will work in sync with new 3-D eyewear based on RealD’s technology," said Sony Executive Deputy President Hiroshi Yoshioka.

In addition to Sony, JVC Kenwood, Mitsubishi, Philips and Samsung are among the companies developing consumer-oriented 3-D gear for home entertainment systems. Though these manufacturers have been thwarted by the lack of an effective 3-D delivery platform in the past, that’s about to change.

The Blu-ray Disc Association said earlier this month that it had finalized and released a new Blu-ray 3-D specification under which images will be sent to each eye at full HD resolution (1080p). The goal is to enable Hollywood’s leading studios to bring the 3-D experience into consumers’ living rooms on Blu-ray discs, the association said.

A Box-Office Draw

With respect to Blu-ray, however, individual manufacturers and content providers are only just beginning to receive technical information and guidelines necessary to develop compatible products. With 18.4 million subscribers in the United States, DIRECTV’s satellite fleet could begin delivering 3-D movies to U.S. consumers much sooner.

Immersive 3-D high-definition technology could potentially be a boon for the delivery of pay-per-view offerings via satellite or cable. According to industry sources, new movies that make their debut in both 3-D and conventional 2-D average three times the per-screen box-office receipts on 3-D screens, and attract two and a half times the per-screen attendance over conventional 2-D versions of the same film. For example, less than 25 percent of moviegoers are viewing Avatar on conventional 2-D theater screens, according to media reports.

"Throughout this year, moviegoers have shown an overwhelming preference for 3-D when presented with the option to see a theatrical release in either 3-D or 2-D," said Blu-ray Disc Association spokesperson Victor Matsuda. "We believe this demand for 3-D content will carry over into the home."

The new DIRECTV 12 satellite is on its way to a geostationary orbit over the Earth’s equator at 102.8 degrees west longitude, from where the spacecraft will be able to provide HDTV transmissions from coast to coast. The new satellite is expected to begin operations early in the second quarter of 2010.


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