Cablevision to offer 3D programming

Using technology from RealD, the cable provider is offering customers high-def 3D content, starting with a Rangers-Islanders hockey game. The catch? You have to have a 3D-compatible TV.

Cablevision is the latest company eyeing 3D technology.

The cable provider announced Wednesday that it's using a 3D format called RealD to offer customers high-definition 3D programs. Licensed from 3D technology maker RealD, the format will let cable networks and providers send their content in 3D using Cablevision's current broadcast system and existing set-top boxes.

But customers do need a 3D-compatible TV, which are just now coming onto the market. And manufacturers who've spoken with CNET have indicated that their current 2D-only TVs can't be upgraded to 3D.

Cablevision's 3D format makes its debut Wednesday night with an MSG Network broadcast of a Rangers and Islanders hockey game live from Madison Square Garden. This event will mark the first hockey game produced and shown in 3D and the first live 3D sporting event broadcast to homes in the U.S., said Cablevision. Customers in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut with 3D TVs will be able to watch the game, but the Garden will also host a special viewing party where it will project the event on a big screen.

"3D content in the home is the next frontier in premium entertainment, and we look forward to providing our customers with an unmatched 3D experience in cooperation with RealD," said Jim Blackley, Cablevision's senior vice president of engineering and technology, in a statement. "We've been extensively testing the RealD Format and believe it is the highest quality and most broadly compatible method for delivering 3D video to our customers."

A viewer watching a 3D display at CES 2009.
A viewer watching a 3D display at CES 2009. Marguerite Reardon/CNET

3D is seen by many companies as the next frontier in entertainment. Manufacturers like Sony and Samsung are busy prepping new 3D HDTVs , betting heavily that viewers will want to buy the new TVs and don special glasses to watch their favorite 3D-compatible programs. TV networks like the Discovery Channel and ESPN are joining the party by unveiling new 3D channels. Even game console makers are getting into the act. Nintendo recently announced a new version of its DS portable console that would display 3D content without forcing gamers to wear special glasses.

For more information on 3D TVs, you can consult CNET's 3D TV FAQ.

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