Q. What is happening with 3-D television and movies?
A. Nothing good. A new study shows interest in 3D television technology is continuing to decline. A summary of recent 3-D comments supports that study’s conclusion.
But there is little enthusiasm for the new technology, even from sports people. “3-D on TV is a bust,” says Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and head of HDNet. “On the Mavs run to an NBA championship, despite me always throwing stuff at the 3-D cameras and having fun with them, not a single person mentioned the 3-D broadcast to me.”
The variety of 3-D formats has scared and confused consumers with the result that the entire retail television marketplace for 3-D may sink and go the way of vcr’s, 8-track music systems, and all the other “toys” we have gathering dust in our media rooms.
In a recent survey of 45,000 households, Riddhi Patel of research firm IHS iSuppli found that America’s “ongoing love affair with television” — new and improved sets, that is — may be over. Her research found that only 13 percent of those surveyed planned on purchasing a new set in the next 12 months.
Patel says potential TV buyers are most interested in price, picture quality and Internet connectability — not 3-D.
One recent reviewer of tv sets said “The idiot TV makers spent an enormous amount of time and money trying to get people to buy a television they didn’t want in the first place,”
“Instead of being told that the new sets would deliver the best pictures they ever saw, they were told they would have to buy a set of 3-D goggles and watch programming that might make them sick!”
Sagging 3D sales are already weighing on profits at Best Buy and other large chain stores, Swann notes.
Retrevo, a consumer electronics and shopping site, surveyed more than 1,000 people from diverse backgrounds. Of those surveyed, one third said they were planning to buy an HDTV in the coming year. While that number is encouragingly high, only 22% of that fraction said they’d buy a 3D television and another 23% of that fraction said they’d consider it if the price point was similar.
“The industry has been trying to figure out why 3D movies do so well and yet 3D home theaters have not kept up in popularity. One factor is the downgrade in size — televisions are necessarily smaller than movie screens. Other factors include the lack of 3D programming and the need for expensive peripherals. The Retrevo study shows 40% of potential buyers said there wasn’t enough 3D programming to watch while 30% of potential TV buyers said 3D glasses were still a problem.”
Viewers are also confused by different 3-D formats (active vs. passive) that are currently being marketed. Remind you of the Beta vs. VHS battle of the 1970’s? Passive 3D is built into the set and doesn’t require battery-powered glasses. Active 3D is powered by special glasses which alternate shutting off the images between the two lenses in rapid succession. Active glasses cost up to $150 a pair, whereas, the passive glasses are priced as low as $39.50.
What is needed to make 3D television more popular? Should the sets be cheaper? Should the programming be better? Also, another big negative…Disks sell for about $40…with most of the programming directed to the family market.
PS: Toshiba is in the early stages of marketing a new 3-D set that does not require glasses.