Starz Gets Into 3D Game With Comcast, Verizon


Starz Entertainment is delivering a trio of 3D movies from Walt Disney Co. and Sony Pictures Entertainment to Comcast and Verizon FiOS TV, available to those affiliates' subscribers of the premium net for no additional charge.

Starz 3D On Demand currently offers Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 3D, Alice in Wonderland 3D and G-Force 3D, with Pixar's Toy Story 3 3D set to premiere in April. Later this year, the service is scheduled to carry Tangled 3D, Tron: Legacy 3D and The Green Hornet 3D.

"There's definitely an appetite for 3D content," Starz executive vice president of programming Stephan Shelanski said. "Basically we think right now 3D is an important part of theatrical releases and as a premium programmer we want to be able to offer this to our subscribers."

Alice in Wonderland

It's still early in the adoption of 3DTVs, and retailers and TV manufacturers reported disappointing sales of 3D-enabled sets in 2010. But Shelanski said Starz believes the market will take off at some point, "and as a premium programmer we want to be at the forefront of this."

Among other premium programmers, HBO debuted 3D movie content on its VOD service in January, also with Comcast and Verizon.

Starz is in active discussions and testing with other affiliates, Shelanski said.

He also said the programmer is also considering providing some of its original programming in 3D format, either natively produced or upconverted from 2D, in 2012. "We've looked at some of the conversion to transfer into 3D and it looks fantastic," Shelanski said.

Starz's goal is to offer four to six VOD titles available at any point in time, though the "title count will ebb and flow based on content supply and release windows," said spokesman Eric Becker.

Starz said it will meet encoding specifications requested by its affiliates. Currently the primary requested spec is for side-by-side 3D encoding with MPEG-2 at 18.75 Mbps. In addition, Starz is making available a top/bottom version available in MPEG-4 H.264 at approximately 7 to 8 Mbps.