3D: The Future of the Entertainment Industry in 2010?

This year’s CES kicked off a massive 3D trend, with everyone from Sony to RealD showing the latest 3D-enabled products at show. No longer relegated to the holodeck on Star Trek or the Matrix in, well, The Matrix, it looks as if 3D is here to stay. Here’s a look at some of the major announcements and what analysts are predicting for 3D in 2010.

The major push this year was to move 3D from the movie theater to the home theater. RealD, the company that turns Disney movies into three-dimensional thrill rides, is working with a range of partners from Samsung and Panasonic to bring 3D-ready TVs to market.

The biggest hat thrown into the 3D ring was ESPN’s announcement of the first 3D network, going live on June 11, 2010. ESPN was one of the first networks to embrace HD and is considered by many to be one of the primary drivers behind the widespread adoption of HD TVs. (After all, football tackles aren’t the same if you can’t see every bone-crunching detail.) After all, 3D TVs won’t do any good without the content to engage the audience, and I can see sports fans jumping on the opportunity to feel even more immersed in a game through a technology like 3D.

Discovery Networks announced on the same day that they would be partnering with Sony and IMAX to launch a 3D television network. As anyone who’s seen the Discovery HD series Planet Earth knows, Discovery has also been on the forefront of implementing new entertainment technologies and will provide that compelling content which could sway consumers to invest in 3D TVs.

In the gaming world, both Sony and Microsoft are showing some interest in 3D gaming. Sony, with it’s own line of 3D TVs coming out, is being more aggressive about 3D gaming adoption. They demoed 3D versions of Gran Turismo 5: Prologue and WipEout HD at CES. On the other hand, Microsoft has had a stronger focus on motion control with Project Natal. However, not be overshadowed by the Playstation 3D hype, Xbox Director of Product Management Aaron Greenberg recently told G4TV, “From the technical standpoint, we are fully 3D capable. We have 3D games running today.”

IGN Gear coverage of Playstation’s 3D games.
Gunnar Optiks stylish alternative to throwaway 3D glasses

TriplePoint client GUNNAR Optiks introduced the solution to those awful throwaway glasses you get at the movie theater – your own personal pair of quality 3D glasses. Made from high quality materials and real lenses, Gunnar will be offering 3D glasses compatible with two of the most popular types of 3D: RealD video and movies, and iZ3D gaming systems.

What do the analysts think? Forrester Research’s James McQuivey believes that 3D is “mostly hype.” “If it took 10 years for HD to go from one home to reach more than half the U.S. population, it will take 3D just as long. Which is an easy bet to make. The real trick is figuring out how long we languish in the low-single-digit millions,” McQuivey wrote.  EEDAR analyst Jesse Divnich agrees: “We’ve been hearing a lot about 3D Gaming at CES, but once the show is over, so will the chatter about 3D Gaming. Sorry folks, it’s not happening this generation.”

However, Lazard Capital Markets’ Colin Sebastian says, “The industry will begin to embrace 3D games following on the popularity of 3D movies and sales of 3D TV sets. In-Stat also predicted that “2010 will be a big year for 3D entertainment” in it’s recent report 3D TV Coming Soon to a Home Near You.

  • In-Stat projects worldwide 3D TV shipments will reach 41 million in 2014.
  • 3D Blu-ray player shipments will track closely with 3D TVs.
  • Pricing is a major barrier, as survey respondents are not willing to pay much of a premium for 3D TV sets and Blu-ray players.
  • Many Pay-TV operators will use half resolution 3D as a stepping stone and learning opportunity for full HD 3D in the future.
  • On a regional basis, North America will be the largest market.

What do consumers think? The University of Southern California’s Entertainment Technology Center’s recent online poll may give us a clue. In a survey of of more than 3,000 individuals, alll signs seemed to point towards 3-D’s growing popularity:

  • 43% of adults who have seen a 3-D movie within the last year would prefer to watch movies and televisions shows in 3-D instead of 2-D.
  • 53% report wanting to watch 3-D television shows at home; 33 percent report wanting to watch all television programs in 3-D.
  • 25% plan to buy a 3-D TV within the next three years. (Of those, 48 percent describe themselves as above-average sports fans, a further nod to ESPN)

In-Stat’s more bullish 3D consumer survey shows that 64% of consumers are at least somewhat interested in 3D in the home. For those who have seen a 3D movie in the last 12 months, the percentage increases to 76%.