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
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.”