Comcast 3D Channel Tees Off With Masters Golf Tourney

The Masters golf tournament was the first to be broadcast live in HD (in 2000) and now Comcast cable subscribers, with the help of Sony, IBM, and Augusta National golf club, will be able to watch two hours of live 3D coverage of all four rounds of this year’s Masters Tournament, another golfing first.

To bring the 3D content to TV viewers, Comcast will launch a dedicated 1080i channel in advance of the Tournament. As the television provider for the Augusta National campus, Comcast already has a team on the ground in Augusta, making the transmission and distribution process a bit simpler. The Augusta production team will hand the signal off to the Comcast team on site, which will format it for Internet and broadcast cable distribution utilizing the DOCSIS 3 network.

“We take the signal from Augusta across our national backbone to our production center in Denver where we do national distribution,” explains Mark Francisco, Comcast technology fellow. “The 3D signal has a lot of information in it because you’re putting both eyes in there, but it works really well on our DOCSIS 3 network, the highest high-speed data network. We put the appropriate formatting equipment on the golf course so that the left eye and right eye can be transmitted on a single channel.”

“Innovation has always been part of Masters tradition,” says Augusta National Golf Club and Masters Tournament Chairman Billy Payne. “Utilizing this technology marks another important milestone in allowing our at-home patrons to better experience the beauty of our course and excitement of our Tournament. We consider ourselves fortunate to be a leader in providing this technology, thanks in large part to our valuable partners who share in our commitment to deliver a meaningful and memorable viewing experience.”

Sony Electronics will support the effort not only as a sponsor of the 3D telecast, but also as an industry expert, along with supplying the latest advances in professional camera equipment and its 3D-capable televisions. Comcast will join in the production effort and provide the distribution channels necessary to deliver the content free to its households throughout the United States. Additionally, Comcast and IBM, the Tournament’s technology partner, will combine efforts to offer the 3D feed via www.masters.com.

Two hours of live afternoon 3D coverage will be available each day beginning during Wednesday’s Par 3 Contest on April 7 and continuing throughout the four Tournament rounds.

Additional reporting by Carolyn Braff