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3D Experts See Content, Hardware on Upswing

24 Mar, 2011

To tell whether 3D in the home is going to succeed, experts are pointing to what’s still happening in theaters.

“We’re building to a second boon,” said Chris Chinnock, president of Insight Media, which oversees the cross-industry 3D@Home Consortium. He points to more than 100 3D films currently in production, and a total of more than 160 between 2008 and 2011 being released in theaters — more than the estimated 100 released when 3D was last a fad, between 1952 and 1955.

Chinnock estimates another 140-plus, at least, will be released in theaters between 2012 and 2015.

“Sanity is returning,” he said. “Hollywood is understanding that not every film can be 3D.” Roughly 8,000 screens in the U.S. are 3D-enabled, and more are on the way, Chinnock said.

This all spells good news for 3D in the home, he said: Most of those theatrical releases will likely get a 3D Blu-ray Disc release. Chinnock forecasts that approximately 100 3D Blu-rays will be released in 2011, and estimates more than 200 will be released in 2012.

Combine those with an expected 10 3D channels launching this year (25 more in 2012), 100-plus sporting events streaming in 2011 (150-plus in 2012) and 100-plus other 3D events broadcast this year (150-plus in 2012), and 3D in the home has a bright near-term future.

“What’s happening in the U.S. is happening around the world,” Chinnock added, pointing to 3D at home channels and broadcasts on the upswing in Europe, Australia, Asia and the Middle East.

Of course, this is all contingent on consumers buying new 3DTVs, and on the hardware side, research firm Strategy Analytics has positive news: It forecasts more than a third of American homes will buy a 3DTV in the next three years, and predicts even faster growth in Europe, with 42% of homes going with 3DTVs by 2014.

The firm predicts 95 million 3D devices — including gaming devices, set-tops and PCs — will be sold worldwide this year.

“Western Europe, Japan and the U.S. will be the world’s three largest markets, accounting for 93% of 3D device sales in 2011,” said Peter King, director at Strategy Analytics. “By 2014 we are projecting a global installed base of nearly 900 million 3D-capable devices.”

In spite of the early challenges the 3DTV market has faced — a lack of standards and a high cost barrier to consumer entry — Strategy Analytics expects global 3D sales to grow 89% this year. Which means it will be on the content side to keep the push going, according to David Mercer, principal analyst at Strategy Analytics.

“Once 3D-ready TVs are out there, the question for 3D content publishers will be: How often will 3DTV owners get the goggles out?” he asked. “Without compelling 3D content there is a real danger that 3D becomes a dormant feature — much hyped but rarely used.”

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