At midnight, Wednesday May 19, 2010, the first Australian free to air 3D television broadcasts began on digital channel 40 in Sydney and Melbourne. The broadcast contained 3D footage of both cities as well as promotional material for the up and coming State of Origin to be seen in 3D on May 26.
Before you rush out and buy a 3D TV just for the State of Origin, you will need to make sure you can actually receive the 3D signal on channel 40. Most digital set top boxes, TVs and PVRs will actually be able to acknowledge the channel, but you won’t be able to see it in 3D without a 3D TV. Furthermore – you may see pictures on that channel if your digital receiver is MPEG-4 enabled.
On the channel Nine web site detailing what you need to know about the 3D broadcasts, it simply says that you have to be in the 3D broadcast area to receive the 3D telecast of the State of Origin on a 3D TV. This, however, will still cause confusion for many viewers.
The 3D trial broadcast is being sent out to five east coast cities: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Wollongong and Newcastle. But just because you are in these areas and receive all of their TV channels does not mean you will be able to see the 3D channel at this stage. In most television broadcast areas, television signals are distributed through many television transmitters to ensure the signal reaches everyone in the area, but the 3D channel is not initially going to be sent out through all transmitters.
For example – the Sydney television area also covers the Central Coast of NSW. There are also a few relay transmitters in Sydney to cover some geographically challenged areas like the eastern suburbs. At this stage, digital channel 40 – the 3D channel – is only being transmitted out of the Gore Hill transmitter. Same place that community TV channel TVS comes from. If you are in Sydney, you may be able to pick up the signal by having your aerial pointed to Gore Hill. As for the Central Coast – you will only get the channel if you are lucky enough to be able to pick up Sydney TV from Gore Hill as none of the four Central Coast transmitters are carrying channel 40 so far.
In Newcastle, the signal is only coming out of two “inner” transmitter sites according to Nine affiliate‘s NBN‘s web site – Charleston and Cooks Hill. That means that a lot of Newcastle will not be able to get the signal either. Some residents may be able to point their aerials to these two sites, but otherwise, a lot will miss out. Back to the Central Coast – who get both Sydney and Newcastle TV – miss out altogether unless in areas that can pick up the signal from Sydney or Newcastle.
Viewers in the Gold Coast may have a similar problem in not being able to receive the Brisbane signal, while Melbourne’s and Wollongong’s also only comes out of the one transmitter at this stage as well.
The trial may roll out to further sites allowing more people to see the 3D transmissions, but there are no details so far to confirm that fact.
For those who can receive digital channel 40, the first free to air 3D broadcast of the first State of Origin match will be historic, and will be well worth the effort to view. That will be followed by SBS’s coverage of the Soccer World Cup in 3D in June.
The first State of Origin airs on Nine (channel 9), Nine HD (channel 90) and Nine 3D (channel 40) at 7.30pm, Wednesday May 26, 2010. The second June 16, the third July 7.
Check out this video recorded from channel 40.