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Report: 3DTV Slow Out of the Gate

13 Oct, 2010 By: Erik Gruenwedel


Strong consumer appeal for 3D theatrical movies has thus far not translated into equal affinity for 3D televisions, according to a new report from DisplaySearch.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based unit of The NPD Group expects 3.2 million 3DTV units to ship this year worldwide, or 3% of all HDTVs. The tally will increase to 90 million units, or 41% of HDTVs by 2014.

Primary culprits include costs of 3DTVs, ongoing issues surrounding 3D glasses, and lack of steady 3D content via multichannel providers and Hollywood studios.

“While TV manufacturers have bold plans and a lot of new products, consumers remain cautious,” said Paul Gray, director of TV electronics research. “Consumers have been told that 3DTV is the future, but there still remains a huge price jump and little 3D content to watch.”

Indeed, this fourth quarter will only find about a dozen 3D Blu-ray Disc movies available at retail, and 3D television programming limited to a handful of sports events. The report said tech-savvy consumers have come to expect significant price drops for new technology and appear willing to wait on the sidelines until they do. North American 3DTV unit shipments are projected to reach 1.6 million this year.

“Set makers have trained consumers to expect rapid price falls for new technology, and consumers seem happy to wait a little,” said Paul Gagnon, director of North America TV research at DisplaySearch.

The report also found that sales of 3D glasses in Western Europe remain low, failing to reach parity with 3DTV units sold. Issues continue regarding compatibility and costs of 3D glasses.

“This is particularly disappointing,” Gray said. “A healthy level would be closer to two pairs of 3D glasses per TV, so it’s clear that these sets at best are being chosen for future-proofing, and at worst it’s an indication that consumers cannot buy a premium set without 3D.”

The analyst said the consumer electronics industry remains committed to 3DTV, and studios have pledged increased availability of 3D Blu-ray movies in 2011.

“TV manufacturers strongly believe in 3D and are driving its cost downward, but its value to consumers relies strongly on the availability of quality material to watch,” Gray said.

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