Televisions featuring 3D display capabilities could receive a major push from consumer electronics retailers later this year, with new research from Retrevo Labs showing a âsignificant downward trendâ in the price premiums for 47-50-inch 3DTVs over equivalent non-3D displays from LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, and other major brands.
The price premium for a 3DTV, currently at about $400, could fall to $200 or even $150 by the holiday shopping season, the consumer electronics site predicts. That could spell Black Friday promotions on large-screen 3DTVs for under $700.
According to a 2010 Retrevo survey, 58 percent of consumers said that 3DTV’s cost would be one factor preventing them from purchasing the technology, while 43 percent said they simply didn’t need a 3D screen at home.
Home entertainment executives pushing the development of 3D television remain undaunted by recent analyst reservations about the formatâs future.
At the 3D Entertainment Summit @ CE Week in New York on Thursday, a panel of executives concurred that 3D TV still promises a compelling consumer experience, and that the television industry had only begun to work out creative considerations and production logistics to bring more 3D programs into living rooms.
But while 3D TV ramps up, the format is still going strong in theaters, the panel maintained.
âA lot of the gripes [about 3D movies] donât necessarily hold water,â said Tim Pastore of 3net, the 3D cable channel jointly owned by Discovery Communications, Imax, and Sony. Addressing the relative dimness of 3D films compared to 2D pictures, Pastore offered, âEven a dim 3D experience, for me, is better than a 2D show.â Responding to analyst reports that 3D has comprised smaller less than half of the opening-weekend admissions for certain 2011 films, the executive noted that âno oneâ has analyzed âthe quality of the movies themselvesâ in terms of their storylines, casting, or other factors that traditionally bear on box-office performance.
Industry-wide revenue for 3D movies, Pastore contended, âis only trailing by a few percentage points from last year. Itâs only June, so we have a lot of legs left in 2011.â
The year is also still young for the 3net cable channel, which launched in February. Currently 3net runs 100 hours of original 3D programming; the channel plans to double amount of content by the end of 2011.
Current 3net programming is largely within Discoveryâs natural-history wheelhouse. But Pastore said that with the audience for 3D TV so nascent, the channel is attempting to âtouchâ as many genres as it can this year, from action sports and music to historic documentaries.
Panelists also agreed that 2D-to-3D conversions â some of which have received poor reviews in theaters âÂ are not inherently poisonous for 3D TV producers. Theyâre just expensive.
Bernard Mendiburu of 3D eyewear maker Volfoni pointed out that stereoscopic conversions are as much of an art and skill as any visual effects production; as in the VFX market, Mendiburu noted, studios get what they pay for.
Pastore said that while all of 3netâs 3D programming to date has been shot ânativelyâ in the format, the channel will consider conversions of 2D shows in the future. âFor us,â he said, âit will become appropriate when we can afford it.â Conversion rates in Hollywood, Pastore said, range between $40,000 and $100,000 for just one minuteâs worth of content â well outside of a cable channelâs budget. But those rates âwill come down,â he predicted.
In efforts to raise its profile in the burgeoning video-on-demand market, Walmart subsidiary Vudu plans to begin offering instant streaming of 3D movies next week to select 3D-capable HDTVs and Blu-ray disc players.
The company made its announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas today (release via Engadget). Among the products supporting the 3D streaming service are Sonyâs PlayStation 3 system and Boxeeâs media software. Other supporting manufacturers include Funai (marketer of the Magnavox and Sylvania brands), LG Electronics, Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America, Philips, Samsung Electronics America, Toshiba, and Vizio.
Marketers of 3D home entertainment face an uphill battle in 2011, with most consumers in the U.S. either nonplussed by the technology or maintaining a wait-and-see approach, according to two new reports.
U.S. consumer interest in 3D TV trails the rest of the world, according to a Nielsen survey. While two percent of the online survey respondents in North America claim to already own a 3D TV, 6% say they probably or definitely will purchase a stereoscopic set in the next 12 months. More than three quarters (76%), meanwhile, say they probably or definitely will not.
Frank Stagliano, Nielsenâs EVP/GM of TV Primary Research, says that the format war between Blu-ray and HD DVD, along with competing plasma and LCD display technologies, have âtrained consumers to waitâ on purchasing new gear such as 3D âuntil widespread adoption is more likely.â
Stagliano adds that some consumers are also deterred by the perceived usability of 3D set and requisite glasses, fearing that 3D technology may inhibit TV as a relaxing medium. Yet the 24-hour 3D TV network launching in early 2011 from Discovery, Imax, and Sony may work to change consumer impressions of the technology, the analyst says.
High HDTV Ownership As Backdrop
According to new research from Leichtman Research Group (LRG), 61% of households in the United States have at least one high definition television set, and about 26% have multiple HDTVs. Comparatively, in 2005, 12% of US households had at least one HDTV, and 1% had more than one HDTV.
While less than 1% of all U.S. households currently have an HDTV set that is 3D-capable, nearly 80% of adults in the U.S. have heard of 3D TV. Yet among that group, just 8% say they are very interested in purchasing a 3D set.
Price may be the chief factor. Six in 10 HDTV owners (60%) report spending under $1,000 on their HDTV set â compared to 48% last year, and 34% two years ago. The technology also arrives at a time when many households consider themselves âsetâ with new televisions. Some 21% of all households purchased a new TV set in the past 12 months, and 18% of all households plan to purchase a new TV set in the next 12 months.
Notably, the mean annual household income of those very interested in getting a 3D TV is 18% below the mean of the LRG survey sample.
The technology continues to receive mixed consumer reviews. Of those who have seen 3D TV, roughly one quarter (24%) rate it an 8-10 (with 10 being âexcellentâ), while 32% rate it 1-3 (with 1 being âpoorâ), LRG says.
âIn just the past five years, nearly half of all U.S. households have adopted HDTV,â says LRGâs Bruce Leichtman. âWith modest consumer demand for 3D-capable TVs, the potential growth of 3D TV will rely on a continued âpushâ of 3D TV by manufacturers and retailers, as well as the fact that about one-fifth of all US households purchase a new TV each year.â
With its new âTechnicolor Certifi3Dâ program, Technicolor looks to help broadcasters and network service providers deliver âquality and comfortableâ 3D experiences to end consumers.
As part of the certification service, the company will evaluate 3D shots against a set of objective criteria for stereographic reproduction, including a 15-point checklist to identify common errors in production. Technicolor also will offer training programs to broadcasters and content creators to help them migrate their production and post-production techniques from traditional 2D television to the three-dimensional medium.
âOur 3D certification platform allows our stereo technicians to quickly and precisely diagnose many of the issues that create viewer fatigue and discomfort,â says Pete Routhier, Technicolorâs VP of 3D product strategy and business development. âOur goal in launching the Certifi3D program was to take a proactive approach in support of the industry to ensure a consistent and quality end consumer 3D experience in the home.â
More details on the new program atÂ Technicolor’s site.
DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group releases several stats boosting the emergent Blu-ray 3D format:
â˘ Since March, consumer awareness of 3D-capable TVs has risen to more than 80%, while awareness of Blu-ray 3D players has increased to almost 60%, according to DEG research. Further, of the more than five million HDTVs expected to be sold between now and mid-January, 30% will be 3D-capable.
â˘ The DEG also cited data from UK-based FutureSource Consulting reporting that 3D TV sales in the U.S. are on track to represent 4.5% of all flat panels sold this year. Worldwide, the adoption rate of 3D TV will be faster than HDTVs in many territories, FutureSource says.
The DEG had previously announced that nearly 40 Blu-ray 3D titles will hit retail shelves by the end of the year.
Quality assurance specialist BluFocus has more than doubled the size of its facility to handle an influx of 3D testing projects, as well as new digital delivery certification services, company chief executive Paulette Pantoja tells M&E Daily.
Under its joint program with THX, BluFocus is certifying upcoming Blu-ray 3D titles for audio and video accuracy, interoperability with various playback devices, and overall creative execution of 3D visuals and interactivity. The program is helping to weed out specific issues such as consistency of depth between 3D subtitles and menu options and the 3D video feature.
Certified Blu-ray 3D titles carry logos on their packaging, similar to a program that THX maintains for standard DVD and 2D Blu-ray discs.
The advent of automated 2D-to-3D conversions provided the impetus for the THX-BluFocus program. âOur fear,â Pantoja says, âwas that if bad 3D [product] went out, it could hurt this hot new technology. There are human factors involved that have to be considered during production.â
In addition to providing an extra set of eyes for studios on 3D Blu-ray (as well as broadcast) projects, BluFocus has tested the automated conversion processes themselves for system manufacturers.
Pantoja says that BluFocus has trained all of its 50+ full-time and part-time staff to work on 3D projects from its facility in Toluca Lake, CA. But the staff is one of generalists who can switch toÂ verifying format accuracy of projects slated for various digital distribution channels â another growth area for the testing company.
BluFocus also recently completed CDSA content security certification for its operations â which Pantoja says was essential for a company âworking on high-profile and secure titlesâ such as Foxâs âAvatar.â
With both 3D and digital delivery, Pantoja says she needs to look no further than her clients for a general indicator of industry health. âWhen you have major studios investing in the format, that formatâs going to be around for a while. ItâsÂ our job to assist them with making sure everything is working as intended and at the best quality possible.â
One in five consumers (20%) reports being âamazedâ by 3D home entertainment demonstrations at retail outlets â a higher percentage than 3D moviegoers who felt the same way (15%), according to the NPD Group.
âSince high-quality digital 3D has been available in the theaters for a few years now, consumers have come to expect impressive effects that are worth the price of admission,â says NPDâs Ross Rubin. âHowever, 3D TVs are relatively new and those viewing a demo donât have to pay for the privilege, resulting in lower expectations that the sets are often exceeding.â
A recent NPD survey finds that 26% of consumers have experienced 3D in theaters in the past 12 months, while only 4% have seen the 3D demos at retail. But four in 10 consumers (42%) are at least somewhat interested in watching 3D movies at home.
Wowed though they may be by demo displays, purchase intent for a 3D TV remains in the low double-digits: 11% of consumers. Cost of the sets remains a barrier for many. Other concerns among those not interested in 3D at home include the relatively short amount of time the technology has been available, and whether or not technical issues have been addressed.
Sony Corp., Discovery Communications and Imax unveiled a mix of original programs and acquisitions for their as-yet-unnamed 3D television channel, set for debut next year (via the Hollywood Reporter).
Sony will contribute its films âCloudy with a Chance of Meatballsâ and âMonster House.â Discovery will add its documentary âAttack of the Giant Jellyfishâ and possessed-animal series âThe Haunted,â while Imax will contribute its specials âInto the Deep 3Dâ and âMagnificent Desolation:Â Walking on the Moon 3D.â
Hour-long original series will include âAbandoned Planet,â a look at abandoned cities, and âJewels of the World,â profiles of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Industry expectations over 3D home entertainment and media tablets such as Appleâs iPad are approaching their respective peaks, according to a new âhype cycleâ forecast by marketing research firm Gartner.
The forecast (via CNET) plots the emerging technologies â along with a host of others, such as private cloud computing â on a modified sine wave curve of industry expectations over time. After reaching the âpeak of inflated expectations,â new technologies are generally cast into a âtrough of disillusionmentâ from both consumers and prospective industry participants before ascending a âslope of enlightenmentâ and prospering on a âplateau of productivity,â Gartner says.
Technologies generally survive the correction of expectations; Gartner estimates both 3D home displays and media tablets are two to five years away from mass adoption.
More on the research firmâs methodology here.
Opinions differ among industry observers on the merits of studiosâ strategy to exclusively bundle 3D Blu-ray versions of films with select 3D electronics brands, Blu-ray.com reports.
Research firm Screen Digest raises concern in a new report that studios may âmiss the window of opportunityâ to establish Blu-ray 3D with consumers by holding back the mass-market release of key titles. Others, such as longtime industry commentator Bill Hunt of the Digital Bits, see the Blu-ray 3D strategy as straight out of the playbook of marketing a new format. âIt doesnât really make sense to release your biggest film in 3D,â Hunt says, âwhen so few people can actually watch it.â
Like other films debuting on Blu-ray 3D this year, James Cameronâs âAvatarâ will only be available with the purchase of 3D TV hardware from a single company.
Panasonic has snagged an exclusive marketing partnership with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment for the 3D Blu-ray Disc release âAvatarâ in early December, according to TWICE. The disc will be exclusively available to those who purchase a Panasonic 3D Viera plasma TV, Panasonic executives tell the site.
Panasonic and Fox have co-promoted âAvatarâ with the electronics companyâs 3D technology since the theatrical debut of the film late last year. Most recently, Panasonic offered a $25 rebate on Blu-ray Disc players or home theaters to those who purchased âAvatarâ on 2D DVD or Blu-ray Disc.
The reported Blu-ray 3D exclusive follows a similar deal between DreamWorks Animation and Samsung Electronics to bundle movies from the studio such as âHow To Train Your Dragonâ with Samsungâs â3D starter kitsâ for home setups.
Time for more musing on the prospects of 3D home entertainment, as Sony launches its line of 3D TVs and ESPN flips the switch on its 3D channel for World Cup telecasts. The Wall Street Journal profiles the first 3D advertising campaigns from Sony as well as Procter + Gambleâs Gillette brand and Disneyâs Pixar (for âToy Story 3â) that will run on the ESPN channel. High production costs has other advertisers tempering their enthusiasm for the technology: sources estimate the premium for a 3D ad spot to range between 30% and 40%. Meanwhile, New York Times advertising columnist Stuart Elliott reports from a panel discussion in Manhattan on marketersâ emerging 3D opportunities.
Sony Corp., Discovery Communications, and IMAX Corp. announced that Discovery Channel executive Tom Cosgrove has been named President/CEO of the joint venture between the companies to develop a 3D television network. Cosgrove, who most recently served as COO of the Discovery Channel, oversees all business and creative areas of the joint venture, with a general objective of driving consumer adoption of 3D televisions.
The joint ventureâs team also includes Rebecca Glashow, Discovery Communicationsâ SVP Digital Distribution, who will oversee cable and satellite distribution for the 3D channel. Amy Carney, President Advertiser Sales at Sony Pictures Television, heads ad sales and promotions. Discovery Communications
Purchasers of Panasonicâs new Viera 3D plasma HDTV can receive the Blu-ray 3D versions of Foxâs Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and Universalâs Coraline in a mail-in promotion between the consumer electronics company and the two studios. Both 3D titles were authored by the Compression and Authoring Center of Panasonicâs Hollywood Laboratory. The promotion runs through July 10; Panasonic expects to ship the discs within 8-14 weeks of receiving consumer requests. Via PR Newswire
Speaking at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills yesterday, CBS Corp. president Les Moonves said he was nonplussed with the 3D conversions of old âStar Trekâ episodes he had seen. But Moonves, along with fellow panelist Chase Carey of News Corp., allowed that 3D TV held promise for sports broadcasts. By Reuters
Through the new licensing agreement, Cablevisionâs content providers will be able use RealD tools to format high-defintion 3D content. The delivery of RealD content is compatible with Cablevisionâs current HD broadcast and on-demand systems and works with existing HD set-top boxes.
The 3D format launches for Cablevision subscribers in the New York area on March 24, with the companyâs telecast of the Rangers vs. Islanders hockey game from Madison Square Garden. Via PR Newswire
Embarking on a 15-city demonstration tour of 3D HDTV, Panasonic is using 3D as the latest differentiator between its plasma displays and the LCD screens of its rivals. Consumers find the new technology âinteresting,â but the price tag gives them pause. Panasonicâs 50-inch 3D screen, along with a Blu-ray player and a pair of glasses, costs $2,900. By Home Media Magazine
Samsung Electronics took the wraps off a 17-SKU lineup of 3D LCD, LED-LCD and plasma TVs, Blu-ray players, and home theater systems that it will ship globally beginning this month and into the early summer.
The across-the-board introduction is to be bolstered by a 3D TV marketing campaign, filmed advertising being produced in 3D for theatrical viewing, and an array of retail supports and content partnerships, said Samsung Electronics America president Tim Baxter. By CustomRetailer
Sony Corp. expects to increase its TV shipments by 70 percent over the next 12 months, due in large part to its upcoming 3D models, according to Sony executives.Â Panasonic, meanwhile, said itâs planning to introduce 3D TVs at Best Buy this week for $2,500, about half the price theyâre available for in Japan. By ChannelWeb
Linderâs, a southern California furniture chain with 12 stores, is featuring what may be the first 3D bundle: a Mitsubishi 3D-ready DLP rear projection set, a PlayStation 3 videogame console, the videogame version of âAvatar,â and one pair of XpanDâs active shutter 3D glasses. Linderâs is charging the suggested retail price for the TVs, and is throwing in the accessories at no additional cost. The PlayStation can transmit the game in 3D, when connected to a 3D ready TV. By The New York Times
If 3D home entertainment is ever to attain mass market success, âits time is now,â said David Wood, deputy director of the European TV broadcastersâ EBU Technical Group, at a recent convention of Hollywood postproduction professionals. However, as Wood pointed out, numerous 3D development questions remain open. Among them is the issue of what parties should set 3D TV standards, and whether they should be regional or global. By Entertainment Technology Center
The 3D Blu-ray specification may be completed, but consumer electronics makers have more groundwork before a 3D home entertainment market can take root. Next up: ensuring interoperability between 3D displays and accessories.
âConsumers will want reassurance that such things as 3D glasses will interoperate between brands,â says Paul Gray of research firm DisplaySearch. âRetailers will also have the same demand to allow a thriving accessory market to develop. The next stage is less glamorous but vital to secure 3Dâs long-term value.â
DisplaySearch expects TV manufacturers to ship some 1.2 million 3D-ready sets this year. That number could grow to 64 million units by 2018 â but only if the industry develops the market with a âsustained attention to detail,â Gray says.
The Consumer Electronics Associationâs chief economist, Shawn DuBravac, asserts that 3D âwill hit all categories across the show floorâ at this weekâs CES in Las Vegas. CEA estimates that 4.3 million TV sets sold in 2010 will be 3D. By 2013, over a quarter of all TVs sold will be 3D â and that nearly half those sales would be to rabid sports fans. By Dealerscope
With the television industry buzzing over the possibilities of bringing 3D HD pictures to the living room as it heads to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, cable sports giant ESPN has gotten a jump on the field by announcing that it will launch a 3D television network, ESPN 3D, this year. The 3D network will feature a minimum of 85 live sporting events in its first year, starting with the first 2010 FIFA World Cup match on June 11. ESPNâs announcement follows speculation that DirecTV will use a new satellite to launch a 3D network, though DirecTV hasn’t announced any such plans. By Broadcasting & Cable
Discovery Communications, operator of the Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet and other cable networks,Â is partnering with Sony Pictures Entertainment and Imax Corp. to launch a 3D channel in the U.S. in 2011, according to the Los Angeles Times. The channel would be distributed through Discovery and will showcase films from Sony and Imax, producer of such releases as “Under the Sea 3D” and “Space Station 3D.” By the Los Angeles Times