Golf on TV enters a new era with next year’s Sony Open, which will become the first PGA Tour co-sponsored event to be televised live in 3-D.
Sony Corp. and tour officials have been testing the technology at several events this year and are ready for their official roll-out at the Hawaii tournament in January.
“We have seen what high-definition does for golf telecasts, and 3-D is the logical next step to enhancing our broadcasts and providing fans with the ultimate viewing experience,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said in a statement.
Sony estimated 83 million households in the U.S. have 3-D-compatible TV sets. And demand is growing fast. In fact, The Masters was aired this year in 3-D.
Electronics and entertainment companies around the world are banking on 3-D to fuel a new boom in TV, movies and games. Most 3-D TVs on the market today rely on bulky glasses to rapidly deliver separate images to each eye, which creates a sense of three-dimensional depth.
Besides having special cameras, offering the Sony in 3-D requires significant costs including having a separate crew and TV announcer, editing truck and transmission.
“So it’s going to be a completely separate program,” said Sony Hawaii general manager Kay Aoki. “It would not double the cost because we have areas that could be shared, but it would be additional.”
The Sony’s 3-D coverage will be produced and distributed to U.S. households by The Golf Channel and Comcast, and be made available to international broadcaster partners that have the technology. Last year, the tournament was televised in more than 220 countries and territories.
Sony, which has a four-decade history in Hawaii, took over as the title sponsor of the tournament in 1999 from United Airlines. The company also announced a three-year extension of its sponsorship; it expects 5 percent purse increases annually. This year’s purse was $5.5 million.
Since Sony’s involvement, the tournament has raised more than $10 million for Friends of Hawaii Charities, which provides funds to nonprofit groups in support of needy women, children and elderly.
The Sony Open is the first full-field event on the PGA Tour’s calendar. It will be played Jan. 13-16 at the scenic Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.