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NPD’s Arnold: Interest In 3D TVs Waning

Port Washington, N.Y. — ESPN’s recent decision to drop its 3D HD sports channel followed a cooling in interest among manufacturers and consumers, alike, according to a recent blog by Ben Arnold, The NPD Group industry analysis director.

According to 3D TV unit sell-through numbers, NPD’s Retail Tracking Service said sales, which had been robust through 2012 at 32 percent growth compared with the year prior, have slowed through the first quarter of the year.

With increased price pressure, TV brands are looking for features to cut and 3D has been the logical target, Arnold pointed out.

“Through Q1, sales of 3D sets are up just 5 percent year over year while sales of TVs above 50 inches, almost exclusively where 3D has gained traction, have grown 50 percent,” he said. “This cutting comes as key indicators of consumer interest continue to decline.”

Arnold said NPD’s recent “3D 360 Wave 10 Study” shows just 14 percent of consumers expect to buy a 3DTV (down from one in four measured two years ago) and 41 percent reported awareness of 3D’s availability as a TV feature (down from 50 percent in 2011) — a sign fewer consumers are associating 3D technology with television.

“Probably most telling from ESPN’s perspective, interest in watching sports in 3D among fans has waned. According to the study, just over half (56 percent) of fans are interested in watching events in 3D, down from 70 percent in 2011,” Arnold said.

 “One thing in 3D’s favor, however, is a fairly solid installed base of owners. NPD’s Consumer Tracking Service reports approximately 12 million 3DTVs have been sold since January 2010 and while a likely small portion of these owners are actually watching in three dimensions, the feature (if not the glasses) is present in a substantial number of homes. Add to this 3D-capable Blu-ray Disc players that account for a third of the market, and a new generation of gaming consoles likely to have some type of 3D functionality, and there still remains a small chance that 3D can find a killer app and an appreciable base of users.”