Queensland may have won last night’s State Of Origin game, but it was 2D TV that scored all the goals when it came down to 2D vs 3D coverage of the NRL blockbuster.

What Channel Nine dished up as blockbuster television was more 1970s TV, where camera coverage was limited and cameramen panned from one end of the ground in an effort to deliver live action. 

The only saviour now for Live 3D TV sport is the coverage of the FIFA World Cup, where 25 games will be shot in 3D by networks using an array of 3D gear.

Despite the hype from Harvey Norman, the Nine 3D coverage lacked depth, with action shots omitted because of a lack of 3D cameras.

3D is in its infancy and word of mouth is critical in building the 3D brand. What the Nine Network delivered last night was lacking and from the feedback I got from several people watching the game in 3D, there is every possibility that consumers will think twice about investing in 3D TV technology going forward.

During the past two weeks, Harvey Norman have been promoting 3D TV as the next big thing, a must-see in an effort to drive customers into their stores. What was delivered was woefully short of action, with players appearing significantly smaller on screen in 3D than via the 2D coverage. Then there was the issue of what you didn’t see.

One only had to look at the large Panasonic screen at each end of the Homebush Stadium to see what was missing from the 3D coverage, live tight action shots, instant replays, and up-close action. 

At one stage, the Nine Network commentators were talking about an on screen 2D replay while the 3D cameras were still following a 2D cameraman recording Queensland players walking away from a try.

After watching the game in 3D I replayed a 2D recording of the game and the difference was dramatic. The 2D coverage delivered a significantly better experience, I felt closer to the game than I had watching the game in 3D, the action was compelling, and the depth of the camera work in 2D was outstanding to the point that you suddenly realise that what we actually get in 2D is excellent.

What the Nine Network needs is the return of a David Hill, the former head of Nine Sport who was responsible in the 1970s for the development of live action TV sport, including cameras hidden in World Cup cricket wickets.

According to my sources, the Nine Network only had three real 3D cameras, which had been imported from overseas. The rest of the coverage was via cobbled together TV cameras that fed two streams of content into a 3D converter.

The standouts of the night were the Samsung TVs, which delivered an extremely high quality 3D picture of the Nine Network coverage.

The big danger now is the Nine Network coverage which was being driven by Harvey Norman did not deliver a good TV experience on screen and this could have long term ramifications. Off screen I still problems having to wear a pair of 3D glasses to watch a live sporting event. They were heavy and cumbersome and I constantly found myself fiddling with them to get a better view.

The poor 3D coverage by the Nine Network could have an adverse effect on the overall image of 3D which is already struggling from a lack of movie content as well as open standard issue.

Moving forward it could be a while before live 3D sport tales off in Australia due to spectrum issues, the high cost of covering a game properly and the overall impact that 3D sport delivers.

Last night’s coverage was via temporary spectrum released by the Federal Government. This will not be available after SBS has put the FIFA World Cup to air in June in 3D. 

What the Federal Government is hoping for is that the TV Networks will enter a bidding war for 3D spectrum in the future; another option being discussed is that the spectrum is made available on a rental basis however this model is fraught with problems especially when two or even three networks have live events at the same time.  

Another issue for networks is the cost of broadcasting an event in 3D. What the Nine Network lacked during their State Of Origin coverage was 3D equipment and having only just completed a major overall to shift their networks to digital and HD broadcasts the networks now face a major capital investment if they are to broadcast live events in 3D. 

At the end of the day this was day one for 3D live broadcasts and as one Harvey Norman executive said to me last night it can only get better from here.

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