Strategy Analytics on 3DTV: A mixed picture

Critics polarised at extremes, but the truth of 3D television is in the middle ground
Darren Allan
Darren Allan -

Cello 3DTV

Strategy Analytics has just published some research regarding the future of 3DTV.

And the author of the report, analyst David Mercer, notes that rarely has an emerging consumer technology polarised critics such as 3DTV has. It’s either a revolution in viewing and the future, or a simple fad, possibly even a dangerous one health-wise at that.

We must admit we fall into the second camp in thinking 3DTV is rather gimmicky, and certainly of questionable value in the current market.

As Mercer notes, early adopters have complaints about the lack of 3D content available at the moment, and also the need to wear glasses. The latter isn’t very convenient – particularly if you already wear glasses – and multiple people watching the film also need a pair each. Even more of an issue when it comes to the active (expensive) glasses.

It’s true that at least manufacturers are working towards standardising the glasses, so you’ll be able to take yours round to a friend’s and watch a 3D film there even if your TVs are different brands.

Even though Mercer acknowledges such issues, he thinks the truth lies in the middle ground when it comes to the polarised debate. According to the recent survey by Strategy Analytics, many 3DTV owners across Europe and the US are “watching shows in 3D and enjoying the experience”.

And apparently almost 70% of 3DTV owners are watching a 3D programme at least once per week – with 40% viewing on a daily basis.

The latter is certainly a surprising statistic given the relative scarcity of three dimensional programming – although much of this viewed content is standard broadcast material upscaled to 3D, a facility which almost half of 3DTV owners are making use of.

Even so, the overwhelming majority of those polled said they would watch more 3D television if they had a glasses-free set.

The health issue is something that has also bothered us. Watching the odd film at the cinema in 3D is all well and good, but daily viewing, perhaps for hours on end in the future, could potentially have side effects we don’t yet know about.

Mercer notes that: “Most people also agree that watching too many shows in 3D makes them feel sick.”

Yet he feels that while this means 3D viewing is generally an occasional activity at the moment, in the future, the technology will improve to allow for a smoother 3DTV viewing experience. We could of course be wrong, but we’re not convinced that’s going to happen.

Strategy Analytics prediction for 2014 is that a third of households will have a 3DTV, and half of those will watch 3D programmes regularly. That certainly doesn’t sound far fetched, by any means, but many will buy a 3DTV by default rather than specifically for its extra dimensional capabilities.

That is until 3D content truly becomes more widespread.

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