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Broadcast Driving 3DTV Adoption

7 Mar, 2011 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Recent launches of 3net (the 24-hour 3D channel launched by Sony Corp., Discovery Communications and Imax Corp.) and ESPN 3D, among other 3D channels, will help drive 3DTV penetration to 15 million homes in the United States by 2012, according to a new report.

Special programming and sports — and not packaged media — are expected to remain initial catalysts as studio 3D Blu-ray releases remain limited, said London-based Futuresource Consulting. Indeed, in North America, more than 10 3D services have been launched and half a dozen video-on-demand, or VOD, services, while the fourth quarter ended with fewer than 20 movies available in 3D Blu-ray.

“Limited retail content availability has placed greater importance on the role of the broadcast segment as a key 3D content source,” said analyst Fiona Hoy.

Although the early 3D broadcast services are struggling to provide “the breadth and quality of viewing material” required to attract wider consumer appeal, increased numbers of consumer electronics manufacturers are forming partnerships with pay-TV operators globally to help co-fund and produce original 3D content, the report said.

Collaborations have included Cyfra (Poland) and LG for 3D sports; NTV-Plus (Russia) and Panasonic; Sky (United Kingdom), LG and Panasonic; and DirecTV and Panasonic (United States). By the end of 2010, 31 3D pay-TV services were available throughout Europe, with 18 linear/demo channels and 13 VOD services.

Hoy said that while 3D Blu-ray represented less than 1% of Blu-ray titles released in 2010, she expects 3D Blu-ray offering to increase to 25% of BD releases by 2015.

“3D disc title sales are expected to see a significant boost this year with a strong release slate, which includes key franchises 'Harry Potter' and 'Transformers,'” she said.

Futouresource said the high cost of active-shutter 3D glasses and limitations imposed by glasses-free 3DTVs continue to thwart wider consumer adoption of the technology. The report found that while 12-inch and 20-inch glasses-free 3DTVs are now available in Japan, the units are designed primarily to work for a single viewer. In fact, enabling a large screen to be viewed in 3D without glasses would require a display with up to 100 unique views, each of which must be created separately.

“Even when the TV technology is in place, the production issues for live action content are still likely to be a major hurdle, as creating content for these multi-view displays requires multiple cameras and a different production/broadcast infrastructure,” said Jim Bottoms, Futuresource director and co-founder.


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