Verizon launches 3D movie fest with 10 titles in next two months

There's no question that "3D" has created a lot of buzz in the industry, but the focus has been on hardware as content has been hard to come by. Hollywood studios are expected to release just 35 3D movies this year, but that number grows to 100 in 2011, and upwards of 200 in 2012, said Parks Associates analyst Pietro Macchiarella earlier this year. But, the catalog of existing feature-length films is slim enough that providers have had to work hard to land them.

Verizon, obviously, is looking at the expected surge of consumers buying 3D-ready televisions and is planning to offer 10 3D movies on its FiOS service over the next two months.

Verizon said it'll kick off its parade of on-demand 3D offerings Nov. 16 with Cats & Dogs: Revenge of Kitty Galore, and will wrap up the year with Disney's A Christmas Carol and Step Up 3D in December. It says more titles will follow in 2011.

(By the way, the seven other 3D films, which will be available beginning Nov. 16, are: Chicken Little, Bolt and Meet the Robinsons from Walt Disney Pictures, and Journey to the Center of the Earth, Under the Sea, Deep Sea and NASCAR from Warner Bros. Digital Distribution.) 

"Verizon is continuing to develop 3D experiences for our FiOS TV customers, and now that includes access to video-on-demand titles available at their convenience," said Tricia Lynch, director of content strategy and acquisition for Verizon. "This selection of 3D movies allows our customers to see what 3D on FiOS TV is really like--with the advanced picture quality and sound that makes FiOS the ultimate home-entertainment experience."

There is, however, a bit of a fly in the ointment, as the number of 3D sets actually sold in the U.S. hasn't been very impressive so far, according to DisplaySearch, which estimates only 1.6 million units will ship in the United States this year. DisplaySearch also says sales of 3D glasses have been slow, which doesn't bode well.

But Hollywood studios have seen 3D programming like Avatar as cash cows, much needed as they watch DVD revenues continue to decline, and pay-TV operators are hoping to hitch their wagons to that rising star.

Macchiarella says it's not a bad bet, it's just one that isn't likely to pay off immediately.

"The lingering effects of the recession is an issue," he said in an August interview with FierceIPTV. "The lack of content, price of devices, and lack of consumer education about 3D is holding buyers back a little bit."

Verizon hasn't announced pricing yet for the 3D fare, but it's likely to follow the premium model that movie theaters follow.

To view the movies, Verizon customers will have to a 3D-enabled set, 3D glasses and an HD STB or DVR.

Verizon has experience with 3D content, televising the Sept. 2 pre-season NFL game between the N.Y. Giants and New England Patriots, as well as two N.Y. Yankees-Seattle Mariners baseball games in July.

For more:
- see this release

Related articles:
3D TV: Coming of age in the next five years
Survey says: Viewers hate 3D glasses; Toshiba says no worries
Report: Steady 3D TV growth seen in U.S. future
French telco rolls out four 3D channels for IPTV service