3DTV fails to set the world alight

As anyone with a brain cell and-a-half might have predicted, 3DTVs are going down like a damp squib in the UK, afflicted by a lack of content and headed for a vicious circle in which slow take-up inhibits content production which in turn hinders take-up.

A report from Informa Telecoms & Media forecasts that fewer than half of the 11 million 3DTV-ready homes in the UK in 2016 will be able to watch 3DTV content.

This is down from last year's 90 per cent of homes that had 3D-ready TV sets who were regarded as “active” users. All three of them.

“3DTV has the backing of the major UK broadcasters like Sky and Virgin, and most recently the BBC announced its plans to show the Wimbledon final in 3D for the first time. However, despite this, public reaction has been mixed – due to both a lack of content and a simple failure of the public to engage with what is, essentially, a new type of viewing experience,” comments Adam Thomas, Senior Analyst and author of Global 3DTV Forecasts.

The report reckons there will be significant growth in the penetration of 3D-ready sets, with one in three households in the UK owning a TV set with 3D capabilities by 2016. Most of these will be used for good-old 2D viewing, however.

Thomas said: “Irrespective of existing public demand for 3D, major set manufacturers (Samsung, LG, Panasonic, et al) increasingly see 3D capability as a feature that they must include in their sets, or the perception will be that rival manufacturers are producing a technically-superior product (with 3D included)." So they'll churn out with superfluous 3D functionality just because their competitors are doing so too, but, for the most part this will never be used.

“We do not share the view that 3D represents the obvious next evolutionary step for TV, in the same way that colour followed black and white, or HD is following SD. A case can be made that colour and HD offer noticeable enhancements to the technologies that preceded them. But 3DTV is less of an enhancement and rather more a new type of viewing experience – one that many people will enjoy, but some way from becoming ubiquitous,” Thomas quite sensibly concluded.