TWICE 3D 2010 Panel: In-Store Demos Will Drive 3D Sales

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New York - Vendors and retailers have faith in the adage "seeing is believing" when it comes to up-selling consumers on 3D TV.


That was the consensus of a diverse panel of industry experts, including Sony executive VP Mike Fasulo, Panasonic senior VP Bob Perry and Sixth Avenue Electronics operations VP Tom Galanis, who discussed the consumer experience at the

3DTV2010 Event

, at the Roosevelt Hotel, here this morning. The event was presented by TWICE and fellow publications from parent company NewBay Media -- Broadcasting & Cable, Digital Video, Multichannel News, TV Technology and Videography.

The panel, hosted by TWICE executive editor Greg Tarr, was one of several presentations and panels at 3DTV2010 by TWICE and sister publications spanning the broadcasting and TV production industries.

"It's all in the demo," said Galanis, whose 18-store A/V chain extends from New York to Delaware. "If you give customers a compelling presentation with good content and audio, most will buy into it."

Sell-through at Sixth Avenue has been good so far, he said, as have sales for Panasonic. "Several thousand retail stores have demos now," Perry noted, "and sales are doing pretty good. They're meeting our expectations."

Sony will begin offering 3D TVs this summer, Fasulo said, but it has already performed 1.6 million demonstrations in its Sony Style stores. "Consumer acceptance is very high," he told a standing-room-only crowd. "Consumers are very receptive to it after a good demo experience."

Nevertheless, challenges remain, cautioned Ross Rubin, industry analysis executive director for The NPD Group. The greatest barriers, according to consumers themselves, are the need for glasses and the perceived high premiums for the 3D TVs and content, he said.

Fasulo countered that the bigger issue is the incompatibility of glasses between brands, which could create confusion on retail sales floors. "No one wants a bad in-store experience. If we don't do it right, we won't eat the fruits of opportunity."

That opportunity is shaping up to be an equal one between channels, TWICE's Tarr noted, with Fred Meyer rolling out Samsung 3D TVs to its hybrid discount/grocery stores in the Northwest, while Walmart prepares to carry 3D sets by the end of the year.

"We need to figure out how to adopt the demos to different retail floors, particularly after the recession," Fasulo acknowledged.

Another challenge, said panelist Jeff Cuban, VP of HDNet, Magnolia Pictures and Landmark Theaters, is that "not all content works across all screens." Concerts fared poorly in tests of various 3D content, he noted, while sporting events appeared to do well. He said HDNet is presently shooting episodic short-form 3D content that limits the amount of time viewers must wear glasses, and believes the potential for home viewing is "huge."

"You can have the same experience as in the theaters," he said. "I'm optimistic that 3D will be profitable for everyone."

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