CEA Panel Details Work Needed On 3D TV

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San Francisco - A lot more work has to be done before the industry can come close to fulfilling the potential of 3D TV.

 

That was the gist of most of the comments from a panel at Tuesday's CEA Industry Forum made up of Andrew Eisner, director of community and content for Retrevo; Jim Mainard, production development head of Dreamworks; Dan Schinasi, HDTV product planning, Samsung; and Brian Burns, strategic business planning and development, ESPN.

Burns said his network's efforts in producing 3D sporting events is "kind of like July 2003 when we were four months into ESPN HD." The 3D effort is "still too early to judge," but he noted, "We are making technical progress ... learning more and more every day."

Schinasi of Samsung said that broadcast standards for 3D TV have a "more secure foundation" than the early days of HDTV.

But the current problem on the consumer level, according to Eisner of Retrevo, is: "What premium will the consumer pay to get 3D? Our surveys show that if it costs the same as a [2D] HD set, fine."

Dreamworks' Mainard noted that six of the top 10 box office hits this year are in 3D so far and that at the theater, "consumers are willing to pay for the premium."

Eisner said that when a consumer sees a good demonstration and "sees a baseball coming at you or a hockey puck ... consumers get interested.'

Burns added that from the ESPN view, more people at this stage can view 3D programming on its networks than the same stage of HD's development. "We are available to millions ... we are far ahead of HD."

 As for retail demonstrations, Burns complained, "They are not going well now" and that at retail "each manufacturer has different end-aps ... 3D is here, but you have to make a big deal about it in stores. It is a bit confusing" at retail.

Content is king, like all new media, and the rollout can be slower and more expensive than anyone likes.

Mainard said, "We are supporting 3D Blu-ray now, but it is not a big business yet." For his studio's demographic, it won't be a big market until next year's Holiday season.

Meanwhile, Burns said that the average sporting event ESPN broadcasts in 3D costs twice the amount as a conventional HD broadcast, and while the network is "fully committed," he urged TV manufacturers in the audience to "call me and help us economically ... we can't do it all ourselves."

And as for the issue of glasses, CEA is working to come up with a standard, which will eliminate many of the consumer objections to the feature. Interestingly, Schinasi of Samsung said that in surveys, "half of those who tried 3D TV with glasses liked them. They wear them in movie theaters. The experience gives them an understanding of why they need glasses to enjoy the experience."

And when asked if the market for 3D TV might take as long as the development of full acceptance of color TV years ago, Dreamworks' Mainard put it succinctly: "It won't take 20 years. It will take 20 months."

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