The many sides of 3D TV ... or putting the car before the highway

DirecTV may be helping alleviate a problem that many industry watchers see with 3D TV: there's no content to watch after you shell out the money for the TV set and silly glasses and then actually make a spectacle of yourself by putting them on-if they're compatible with the set you bought, of course. The satellite provider has joined with Panasonic to launch three 3D channels, including a Panasonic-powered linear channel dedicated exclusively to 3D programming "at no additional cost to millions of DirecTV HD customers.

Therein lies one of the rubs. There might be millions of DirecTV HD customers but there aren't millions of 3D TV-capable TVs. And the move is limited to DirecTV so "that's good news for DirecTV customers but it's not much help to cable or Dish network subscribers who are currently limited to ESPN 3D, said Pete Putman in HDTV Magazine.

Putnam likened the current 3D market to the start of the digital transition way back in 1998 when two DTV stations went on the air. Set-top boxes cost too much, TVs needed a 1080i connector, "plus an antenna, and maybe a preamp, and a bunch of coax, and a compass to tell you where to aim the antenna," Putman writes. "Oh, and yes-you needed HDTV content" that didn't really show up for four years. It's a pattern, he said, 3D TV can't afford to follow.

And speaking of 3D, one of the world's most aggressive early adopter markets, Japan may not be the place to launch 3D TV. The nation's TV audience is turning a blind eye to 3D because they don't want to wear silly glasses, the price of sets is too high and, even if they conceded the first two points, there's nothing to watch.

Perhaps things are different in Eastern Europe (of all places) where Canal+ has presented a live football broadcast in 3D and Estonia, STV launched a channel offering sports, cultural and recreational programming. Others embracing 3D include Russia and the Czech Republic.

For more:
- see this news release
- and this story
- and this story
- and this story

Related articles:
Report: Steady 3D TV growth seen in U.S. future; IPTV 3D adoption lags
DirecTV to launch ESPN 3D TV Channel
Price, goofy glasses hold up 3D TV adoption in U.K.

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