World Cup to provide kick for 3D TV market

My youngest son is also my largest son; he's 6'8" and 300 pounds. And, while he isn't exactly suited for soccer (he actually plays college football), he's a rabid fan of the game and has been growing increasingly geeked about the prospect of watching the 2010 FIFA World Cup when it kicks off later this month.

He's not alone, worldwide interest in the tournament is always rabid, but this year, it's going to be available to more viewers than ever, thanks to expanded coverage by networks looking to capitalize on its global marketability.

But it's not just networks that are likely to see a boom.

This World Cup could be a catalyst for the 3D TV segment as well.

At least 25 games are being televised in 3D, and, on the heels of a reasonably successful outing at this year's Masters and March Madness, that could be enough to start the ball rolling in earnest.

"This summer's World Cup will provide an ideal platform for 3D programming, for example, FIFA and Sony have already announced that they will be showing 25 matches in 3D," said Simon Murray, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media and author of Global 3D TV Forecasts. "With the possible exception of the Olympics, the World Cup is the most important showcase for new broadcast technology and it could potentially do for 3D TV, what Avatar did for 3D movies. The influence of Hollywood, console manufacturers and games publishers will also help push overall demand."

Murray forecasts more than 20 million homes globally will be watching 3D TV within five years. North America is expected to have the biggest share, with 9.2 million, Western Europe will be second with 6.8 million and Asia Pacific third with 4.6 million.

The push from industry players--CE manufacturers, content owners, broadcasters, platforms and satellite operators--will be key, he said; all see 3D as a major growth area. It will, says Murray, grow even faster once manufacturers figure out how to eliminate the need for glasses to view a 3D image, one of several reasons--along with the high cost of 3D TVs and a lack of compelling content--causing consumers to drag their feet a bit in adopting the technology.

Twenty million homes will make up just 1.6 percent of the market in 2015, Murray says, that's really not bad for a segment that will still be in its infancy. -Jim