Major MSOs Eyeing Comcast’s 3D Feed for The Masters

In addition to distributing the 3D telecast from The Masters to its own cable systems, Comcast will deliver the 3D feed for next month’s tournament at Augusta National to several other major MSOs, including Cox Communications. Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks are also looking into dispensing Comcast’s 3D feed throughout their cable systems.

According to Light Reading Cable, Comcast has also struck a deal with Augusta National Golf Club that will prevent DirecTV, Dish Network, Verizon FiOS, and AT&T from distributing the 3D feed to their subscribers, so it looks like satellite and IPTV providers will have to sit this one out.

Comcast will send the 3D feed, which will be produced by ESPN using Sony cameras and switchers, from Augusta, GA, through its Colorado-based Comcast Media Center facility and out to its cable systems and those of the participating MSOs. Comcast has already cleared space for a dedicated 1080i channel that will be used exclusively for The Masters in 3D and will be available to all of Comcast’s markets.

Comcast Fellow Mark Francisco told Engadget that very few changes or updates will need to be made for the 3D Masters transmission, which will take up a 6-MHz channel, other than multiplexing the left- and right-eye frames. Comcast plans to multiplex the frames side-by-side, as opposed to over-under.

The telecast will be available only to 3D-TV owners who are subscribers of Comcast and the included MSOs. Engadget also reports that all of Comcast’s HD set-top boxes connected via HDMI are already capable of handling the signal, so firmware upgrades will not be required. However, future upgrades will include 3D menus and guide information, which are currently still 2D.

The 3D coverage will also be streamed on Masters.com to those with a 3D-capable PC setup, thanks to Augusta’s partnership with IBM. In addition, Sony will outfit several 3D viewing suites throughout Augusta National during the tournament.