The revolution in 3D television entertainment is gathering pace around the world, with Japanese electronics giant Panasonic announcing that it will deliver next month's Roland Garros - French Open Tennis Tournament in three dimensions across Europe.

Panasonic has teamed up with the Federation Francaise de Tennis, Orange and Eurosport to broadcast the first live, multi-day sporting tournament in Europe in 3D.

The Paris tournament opens on May 23 and the final is scheduled for June 6 and is the tennis grand slam that attracts the largest European viewing audience, the companies involved announced in Cannes on Wednesday.

The 3D coverage filmed on the center court - Court Philippe Chatrier - will be broadcast live via ADSL and fiber to Orange subscribers throughout France in a dedicated Orange TV channel. In addition, professional-quality camcorders provided by Panasonic will enable behind-the-scenes footage to be shot for additional reports.

A full documentary in 3D will be produced after the event.

The entire tournament is to be transmitted in 3D to retail stores across France, while Eurosport will take the same signal and transmit via satellite to a further 3,000 stores in a further 58 European territories on Panasonic's VT20 3D plasma televisions.

The market for 3D entertainment has taken off in the last 18 months, with industry analysts anticipating that 2010 will be the breakthrough year for the technology as it becomes available for home-use. An estimated 1.2 million units will be sold this year, according to research unit DisplaySearch, but that figure will rocket to 15 million units in 2013.

The Hollywood film studios have been quick to embrace the technology, led by the science-fiction epic Avatar, while Sony Corp. has signed a deal with football's international governing body to record as many as 25 matches of the upcoming World Cup in South Africa in 3D, giving viewers a more realistic view of the match by giving the image of depth on the screen.

But Roland Garros will be the first major sporting tournament to benefit from the technology.

"The release of our first 50-inch, full HD 3-D Viera televisions and Blu-ray players across Europe this spring will make a new era of immersive home entertainment experiences possible," Laurent Abadia, CEO and chairman of Panasonic Europe, said in a statement.
"From the early days of sport on television, the Roland Garros tournament has always been at the forefront of innovation, and we are particularly proud that the French Open will be the first tennis event to be showcased so extensively in 3-D," said Michel Grach, media director of the event.

"Our mobile clay surface makes 3D images all the more impressive, and tennis fans throughout the world will experience our sport as they never have before," he added.

JR

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