Whoa! Royal wedding may be broadcast in 3D

Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB wants to add an extra dimension to the April 29 wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

The satellite television provider is considering broadcasting the signal to British cinemas and 3D-TV-enabled homes as a way of generating standout coverage of an event that could have the biggest global audience in TV history.

Discussions with Clarence House and Buckingham Palace have not begun, "but if the planets align, then this is the kind of big-event TV that would definitely be a contender for our strategy of offering 3D coverage," says a Sky insider.

Sky has shown Premier League soccer in 3D for more than a year, and it aired the election leaders' debate, operas, concerts, ballet and the ATP tennis finals on its own 3D channel.

The 3D service can only be accessed by the 3 million-plus homes with Sky's high definition set-top box (and 3D glasses).

The strategy is indicative of the worldwide scramble as broadcasters plan coverage of the first royal wedding of the multimedia age.

"I think it is going to be a major event for many, many people in this country and around the world," says BBC director of vision Jana Bennett, who oversees the public broadcaster's television, radio and online content.

Video of the Westminster Abbey ceremony will likely be made available free to accredited broadcasters around the world. BBC is looking at filming and broadcasting the event in HD and Bennett thinks it might be a driver for HD services.

"It could be a bit like the [1953] Coronation when TV sets were turned on for the first time in so many million of households," she says.

Nearly 1 billion viewers worldwide tuned into the 1981 state wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer — then broadcast by the BBC in an era when both the U.K. and the U.S. had just three national TV channels.

The 1997 funeral of Princess Diana was watched by an estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide, making it the most-viewed TV event ever.

Given the number of TV channels, online video outlets and social networking sites, viewership totals for the Prince William wedding will likely eviscerate previous records.

"We haven't gotten into the logistics of how all the media feeds will work," a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman tells THR.

A royal couple's long courtship

William and Kate

On April 29, 2011, Prince William and Kate Middleton were married, eight years after they first met at university. The prince popped the question five months earlier to his longtime girlfriend during a vacation to Kenya. Take a look at their top moments.

Official wedding photo The online version of the royal wedding's official program includes a never-before-seen portrait of the couple, shot by Mario Testino. Testino also shot their official engagement pics.

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Kate Middleton, or the Duchess of Cambridge as she is known after the wedding, waves as she walks with Prince William in Darwen, England, on April 11, less than three weeks until the royal wedding.

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Excited fans line up to see Prince William and his fiancee Kate Middleton arrive at the Darwen Aldridge Community Academy in Darwen, England, on April 11. The prince was in the town to officially open the school.

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Heavy rain didn't prevent Kate Middleton and Prince William from thrilling the crowd that gathered to see them as they arrive at the Darwen Aldridge Community Academy in northern England on April 11.

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A perfect flip

Prince William looks on as Kate Middleton tosses a pancake during a visit to City Hall on March 8, 2011, in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

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Britain's Prince William and his fiancee, Kate Middleton, speak to wedding florist Rachel Gibson during a visit to the Greenmount Agriculture & Food College, in Antrim, Northern Ireland, on March 8, 2011.

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Prince William looks on as his fiancée Kate Middleton signs the book of condolence in memory of those who lost their lives in the Christchurch earthquake at the New Zealand High Commission in London.

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Romantic homecoming

Prince William and Kate Middleton returned to the university where they met and fell in love on Feb. 25 with an official visit to St. Andrews on the east coast of Scotland.

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Prince William and his blushing bride-to-be Kate Middleton performed a bit of royal duty, making a rare public appearance in Anglesey, Wales to christen Trearddur Bay Lifeboat Station’s brand new lifeboat, the "Hereford Endeavour" on Feb. 24, 2011.

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Official engagement portraits

The couple pose in their official engagement portraits, taken by photographer Mario Testino in the Cornwall Room at St James's Palace in London on Nov. 25, 2010.

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William and Kate pose for the media at St. James's Palace in London on Nov. 16, after they announced their engagement. The couple are to wed April 29, 2011.

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This close-up shows that the engagement ring Prince William gave Kate Middleton was the one that had belonged to his mother, Princess Diana. The ring is an oval sapphire surrounded by diamonds.

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Months of speculation about William and Kate's engagement grew more intense when the couple attended Harry Meade and Rosie Bradford's wedding at the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul on Oct. 23, 2010, in Northleach near Cheltenham, England.

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In an eye-catching hat, Kate Middleton attends the wedding of Nicholas van Cutsem and Alice at The Guards Chapel, Wellington Barracks on Aug. 14, 2009, in London. Middleton had been named to Vanity Fair's international best-dressed list in July 2008.

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Prince William and Kate Middleton attend the wedding of friend Chiara Hunt in Salzburg, Austria, on Sept. 6, 2008. Two years and two months later, it was announced that the prince and his longtime girlfriend had finally become engaged.

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Prince Harry, Prince William's girlfriend Kate Middleton, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall laugh together as they watch the Order of the Garter procession at Windsor Castle on June 16, 2008.

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Prince William and Kate Middleton at a Royal Air Force graduation ceremony held at RAF Cranwell, England on April 11, 2008. Middleton's accompanying the prince as he was awarded his RAF wings was a clear indication that the couple had reconciled after a widely reported split a year earlier.

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Kate Middleton attends a horse race at the Cheltenham Festival in Gloucestershire, western England, in this March 16, 2007, photograph.

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Prince William and Kate Middleton were spotted skiing in Klosters, Switzerland, on March 19, 2008, one of a number of public appearances together that showed that they had reconciled after a reported April 2007 breakup.

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Prince William and Kate Middleton on the first day of the Cheltenham Race Festival in Gloucestershire, on March 13, 2007. One month later, the media reported that Middleton and the prince had broken up.

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Prince Harry (front left) and Prince William (on Harry's left) are clearly enjoying a performance at the Concert for Diana at Wembley Stadium in London on July 1, 2007. So is Kate Middleton (upper right corner). At the time, rumor had it that William and Kate had reconciled after their split in April 2007, but they sat separately, insisting that they were "just good friends."

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Prince William and Kate Middleton attend a rugby match in London in this Feb. 10, 2007, photo.

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Photographers snap pictures of Kate Middleton as she leaves her Chelsea home on Jan. 9, 2007, her 25th birthday. The growing media attention that she attracted at this time prompted warnings to the press from Prince Charles, Prince William and Middleton's lawyers. As a result, two newspaper groups decided to cease publishing paparazzi photos of Middleton.

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Kate Middleton arrives at the Sovereign's Parade at The Royal Military Academy in Camberley, west of London, on Dec. 15, 2006.

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Kate Middleton is seen at the wedding of Laura Parker Bowles and Harry Lopes at St Cyriac's Church, Lacock on May 6, 2006, in Wiltshire, England.

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Kate Middleton models on the catwalk at a student fashion show attended by Prince William on March 26, 2002, in St. Andrews, Scotland. The prince reportedly paid 200 pounds to sit in the first row and watch Middleton model a sheer dress over a black bandeau and bikini bottoms.

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In November 2006, British retailer Woolworths showed a china plate representing Prince William and Kate Middleton as a commemorative gift for their wedding. Four years later the prediction finally came true when the royal family announced that the couple were engaged.

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BBC, ITV and Sky News are all planning live coverage, as are a host of broadcasters in the U.S. and around the world.

But despite the high tune-in, the Royal Wedding — in 3D or not — likely won't generate a huge payday for broadcasters because the event will air live.