Virgin rushes to beat Sky to 3D broadcasting

Virgin Media has rushed out to beat Sky to the 3D game, offering an on-demand movie streaming service to the, er, tens of people who have a 3D set top box, 3D telly, 3D glasses and Virgin plus.

The first film available is modern classic StreetDance 3D. HD films cost more dosh and 3D even more – about £6 for a 24 hour rental. Lined up for the service are Garfield’s Pet Force 3D, Disney’s A Christmas Carol 3D, Step Up 3D and Despicable Me 3D. The film that kick started it all, Avatar, will probably be going to Sky as Murdoch’s Fox owns the rights.

When we asked Virgin if the move was to beat Sky to a 3D service we were offered a standard “on the record” response – about offering new technology to customers first, blah blah. There was no off the record response so we’ll take that as a yes.

While Virgin may consider it a minor victory to get ahead of the broadcasting pack, the fact is Sky dominates paid-for broadcasting and dictates where the industry will go. If Sky is doing something everyone else wants to do it too, first, or eventually. Just as the BBC rushed to get HD live before Sky did, even though no one had an HD telly at the time, Virgin has rushed to get 3D up and running, even though no one has a 3D telly except the one guy who bought one from John Lewis a couple of months ago. 

Analysts have told us that there will be 3D TVs in the home – but rather than genuine consumer demand it will be a case of keeping up with the Jones’. That’s how the market in the West works. Apparently that’s how broadcasting works too.