Sky has broadcast the first live 3D TV event to a domestic television in the United Kingdom. The transmission of a performance by the band Keane was delivered over the existing Sky satellite platform to a set-top box and a special ‘3D Ready’ TV. The event was also shown in a cinema and streamed online in a special 3D presentation.

“We’re excited to have worked with Keane and their innovative management team to explore how our 3D TV technology might be used to offer a totally new viewing experience for live and recorded music,” said Gerry O’Sullivan, the director of strategic product development at Sky.

“Being able to broadcast a live event in 3D is a real breakthrough as previous demonstrations have relied on recorded material. This is the first time we’ve broadcast a live event in 3D over satellite and it shows the significant progress we’re making with our research and development activity.”

“We are continuing to talk to a range of different partners and content owners to find out how far we can take this technology and most importantly whether there is future consumer demand for 3D TV services.”

The event was broadcast over satellite using conventional systems and received on a standard Sky+HD set-top box. The signal was displayed on a Hyundai 46 inch 3D television screen and could be viewed stereoscopically using glasses with polarising lenses.

The test broadcast was also received at a Vue cinema fitted with 3D projection equipment. A separate stream was made available online which could be viewed using traditional anaglyph red and green lenses.

Sky has previously demonstrated sports events recorded in 3D but this is the first time a live event has been delivered in 3D over the Sky platform. Although Sky stresses that this is not a product launch but part of ongoing research and development, it seems that 3D TV could be with us soon, possibly by the end of the year.

Screen Digest reports that a new wave of 3D movies being released theatrically is driving interest in delivering 3D TV in the home.

This is likely to be led by formats such as Blu-ray disc and 3D TV broadcasting will take longer to become mainstream, while3D games may take off quicker among early adopters.

Analysts suggest that up to 10% of televisions sold could have 3D capabilities by 2011, subject to standardisation of the technology, although it is likely the number could be much lower.

“What 3D offers the Studios and pay TV operators is an opportunity to charge a premium for content — perhaps even more so than high definition,” said Marie Bloomfield, an analyst at Screen Digest. However, as ever this depends on the availability of 3D material.

“Consumers will not be persuaded to invest in new equipment to experience 3D until there is enough content; and content production will not ramp up until there is a significant audience,” she observed. “3D in the home will therefore be a slow burn, remaining a niche business for the foreseeable future.”