The future of Sky 3D

Interview: John Cassy - head of Sky 3D
Sky 3D - heading towards 500,000 UK homes

Sky 3D has been the UK's only dedicated 3D television channel since its launch in 2010 and TechRadar caught up with Sky 3D head John Cassy as Formula 1 was given the 3D treatment in a one-off experiment.

Cassy - a former journalist who previously headed up Sky Arts - talked extensively about the progress of 3D, the coming of UHD television and the growing role of on-demand.

TechRadar: Can you update us on how Sky 3D has progressed since its launch a few years ago?

Cassy: We're in very good shape really. We went on air in October 2010 and since then we have grown very well, if you look at where the launch of HD was at this stage in its life, we're not far away. If you were to speculate at the number of homes that have 3D, the figure that often surfaces [400k] is about right.

And how many of those homes are actually watching 3D?

Cassy: It's driven by events as much as anything. We've evolved our strategy to focus on the key events so, as an example, Sunday [had] F1 testing, then over to the North London derby and then Got to Dance - the Sky One's reality show - that's three different big shows, all live and all in 3D.

And all different audiences as well, we'd imagine.

Cassy: They are distinctive enough. Movies are one of the other key areas and we've had a series of landmark documentaries voiced by Sir David Attenborough like the Penguin King, Meerkats 3D and Galapagos 3D. The latter did very well for us in 3D and it's one of the special treats.

Meerkats 3D

Meerkats good in 3D but not at noticing cameras

It's value add for your audience as much as anything, isn't it?

Cassy: The thing is, at Sky we are very aware that people choose if they want to be one of our customers, and we've got to basically make sure we are always giving them value and 3D is one of a number of ways we can give them value. When we talk to them they love the 3D experience and they would like the chance to see something in a completely different way; Formula 1 is another illustration of this.

TechRadar has been following Sky 3D since that very first journalist briefing, what does the addition of Formula 1 bring for the sport and for the technology?

Cassy: The Formula is very much a one-off, it's a chance to do something we are all very excited to try. Formula 1 management have been great in enabling this to happen. I'm interested to see it myself. What we've done in 3D is we have tried to pick out the big interesting events, like the Ryder Cup where we partnered with Cameron Pace, James Cameron's company. We did a few days of coverage there and, not only is golf amazing in 3D, but the Europeans staged one of the greatest comebacks ever. We hope that [Formula 1 in 3D] will offer an interesting new way of watching.

John Cassey with Anthony Davidson at the 3D F1 event

John Cassey with Anthony Davidson at the 3D F1 event

One of the big trends in the last few years is 4K and Ultra HD. Sky was a pioneer of HD and 3D in the UK, can we expect to see that kind of step up to UHD?

Cassy: From our point of view, Sky always has been, and we hope always will be, at the front of TV innovation in the UK. If you look at what drives TV development, it's better picture and better sound, so we went from silent and black-and-white, to sound and black-and-white, to colour, to digital, to HD and now 3D and so there will be future technologies. We have a watching brief on Ultra HD and 4K. Actually what we have been doing, the Attenborough shows have all been filmed in 4K - and in some cases 5K - so they have been captured and future-proofed in a sense, as far as we can. But we're playing around with it.

Patrick Goss

Patrick Goss is the ex-Editor in Chief of TechRadar. Patrick was a passionate and experienced journalist, and he has been lucky enough to work on some of the finest online properties on the planet, building audiences everywhere and establishing himself at the forefront of digital content.  After a long stint as the boss at TechRadar, Patrick has now moved on to a role with Apple, where he is the Managing Editor for the App Store in the UK.