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3D Summit: Consumers Not Willing To Pay Much More For 3D At Home

17 Sep, 2009 By: Chris Tribbey

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. — Consumers may love new 3D content, but they sure don’t want to pay much more to watch it at home.

That’s according to consumer research presented by In-Stat Digital Sept. 18 at the 3D Entertainment Summit, which featured studio and consumer electronic company executives, research firms and 3D technology experts.

Michelle Abrahams, principal analyst with In-Stat, shared research that showed 64% of consumers surveyed expressed at least some interest in 3D content, but 25% of consumers said they wouldn’t pay any premium for a 3D-enabled TV. On the software side, 33% of respondents said they wouldn’t spend more money for a 3D disc over its 2D counterpart.

Blu-ray Disc player owners, however were a different story.

“Those who already own a Blu-ray player were more likely than other respondents to spend more,” Abrahams said.

“Is this the same thing as the 1960s and 1970s?” asked David Wertheimer, CEO and executive director of the Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California, referring to failed attempts to jumpstart 3D. He doesn’t think so. Because of digital technology, 3D is here to stay. He said his organization’s data shows that the more experience people have with 3D, the more likely they are to want it again.

“This time we believe it’s here to stay because we’re living in a different world,” said Jim Bottoms, managing director of corporate development for Futuresource Consulting. Futuresource puts American 3D-enabled TV household penetration at 45% by 2014, compared to just 12% estimated in 2010.

He said the fact that Blu-ray hardware sales are fast overtaking DVD hardware sales (with DVD projected at 53% and Blu-ray at 47% for 2009) is good news for future 3D-on-Blu-ray ventures, especially because “at the moment consumers can only get the full benefit [of 3D] in the theater.”

Paul Gagnon, director of North American TV research for DisplaySearch, said standards are the No. 1 priority for the industry right now. The Blu-ray Disc Association is aiming to establish a standard for software by the end of the year. Once standards are established, “it gives everyone the green light to go forward,” Gagnon said. His firm believes that by 2013 there will be just less than 12 million 3D-enabled TVs in American homes, compared to less than 2 million in 2011.

“We’ve gone through two years of consistent change and improvement … and we’re by no means finished,” aid John Lowry, president and CEO of TrioScopics 3D, which has done the DVD and Blu-ray Disc 3D glasses for Journey to the Center of the Earth, Saw VI, My Bloody Valentine and Coraline. For Coraline alone, the company has produced more than 18 million green and magenta glasses for Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

He said his company made the choice to go with green and magenta for the glasses, vs. old anaglyph standby red and blue/cyan, because of better color definition and “the phenomenal balance between the left and right eyes.

As the BDA works toward a standard for 3D on the format, Chris Fawcett, VP of Sony Electronics’ home audio-video group, reminded everyone of how important that decision will be for home 3D.

“I think Blu-ray is actually the killer app for HD television,” he said. “Anything we add to the feature side of Blu-ray is something we hope the consumer is attracted to.”

Andy Parsons, SVP of corporate communications and new product planning for Pioneer, said Blu-ray already is its own killer app and pointed out that when the BDA does adopt a standard for 3D — requiring 1080p delivery to each eye and inclusion of 2D versions of content on 3D discs, to insure backwards compatibility — nobody will have to “go out and get a new Blu-ray player.”

Benn Carr, VP of technology for Walt Disney Studios, said that as studios experiment more with 3D at home, they’ll have to be careful not to overwhelm consumers with too much. Chris Carey, EVP of worldwide technical operations for Paramount, agreed, saying, “It’s very early. Everyone will learn where the line is for fatigue and distraction.”

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