Tuesday, 16 July 2013

3D TV has been giving broadcasters a headache

You can already hear the naysayers and sceptics rubbing their hands together at the news the BBC are quitting 3D TV. Of course they're ditching it. It was only a matter of time, right? In fact, the nation's own broadcaster isn't the first to part with 3D, US-based ESPN is also leaving the technology behind. Sky is remaining committed to the format, but with the BBC the latest to drop out of the stereoscopic picture, the format has been dealt a sizeable blow.

While the cold hearts of cynics who called 3D a gimmick will be cheered, the news won't be so well received in the sales departments of Currys and Argos, with 3D supposed to help shift new TVs. But in this economic climate is it any surprise that new tech has not been adopted quickly by the masses?

Perhaps confusingly, the lack of appetite for 3D seems to extend to those who actually already own 3D TVs, with half of those owning such televisions opting to watch the Olympics opening ceremony in 3D. Worse still, a mere 15% of those with 3D TVs watched Mr Stink and the Queen's Christmas Message in 3D, but then again, maybe that's the problem right there. The Queen's Speech in 3D? Unless Her Majesty (God bless her) was combatting errant corgis, throwing staff through windows or, er, jumping out of a helicopter, maybe 3D was just a touch wasted on such a broadcast? Maybe TV isn't inherently geared towards 3D?

I'm not anti 3D, and I haven't spent nearly enough time watching 3D to be the best judge of how much it enhances a film or show. Why? Because one half of my household has poor vision in one eye, rendering 3D pointless for them. 

In a way I feel sorry for the format. True, it is taking up valuable 2D screen time at the cinema, but it's got an uphill struggle, fighting off-puttingly poor early examples of the format on the big screen, a small user base, launching during a recession, the fact that 3D has already had a crack at the market decades ago... It hasn't had a lot of love. Add that to the low levels of enthusiasm of even those that already have 3D TVs...it's not looking great. 

But it does sound like Sky has the right idea, tying 3D in with big events, sporting occasions, spectacular nature documentaries and the like. And Sky has form when it comes to changing the nation's viewing habits. So, it's far from a KO. There's too much riding on 3D (not least for film studios and distributors) for it to slope away quietly. If broadcasters can get a handle on how best to use it, which has arguably been one of the biggest obstacles to success for the formet so far, then 3D will be back. Again.

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