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15 million 3DTVs in US homes by 2012

3D for the home continues to gain traction in key markets: Futuresource Consulting forecasts that nearly 15 million US homes will own a 3DTV by the end of 2012.

The analyst’s Home 3D Tracker report shows that with manufacturers engaging in a battle for 3DTV market supremacy in 2010, the market has been boosted by price premiums reducing quite sharply with household brands incorporating 3D in more and more of their TV and BD model ranges.

The analyst predicted that by the end of 2010, 31 3D pay-TV services were available throughout Europe, with 18 linear/demo channels and 13 VOD services. Across North America, 11 3D services have been launched, with two 24/7 channels and six separate VOD services.

Yet, even though it believes that 2010 finished on a positive note with strong sales for manufacturers, especially in Q4, 3D content was unable to keep pace with consumers’ expectations. This was, says Futuresource, due to studios agreed hardware/content bundling deals with CE manufacturers, creating a lack of packaged 3D content at retail.

Explained Market Analyst Fiona Hoy: “Limited retail content availability has placed greater importance on the role of the broadcast segment as a key 3D content source. Although early broadcast services struggled to provide the breadth and quality of viewing material that this nascent technology requires, many CE manufacturers have now formed partnerships with pay-TV operators to help co-fund and produce original 3D content. Many of these partnerships will last up to three years, by which time the market will have become more established. Collaborations have included Cyfra (Poland) and LG for 3D sports; NTV-Plus (Russia) and Panasonic; Sky (UK), LG and Panasonic; and DirecTV and Panasonic (USA).”

Futuresource expects broadcast to continue to play an important role, not only in providing 3D content directly into the home, but also in educating the consumer and driving awareness. Physical media sales will also receive a fillip with a release slate that will include key franchises Harry Potter and Transformers. “Although 3D represented less than 1% of total US Blu-ray retail sales during 2010, this is expected to reach nearly 25% by 2015,” added Hoy.

However, the analyst noted that there were still a number of fundamental issues that needed addressing before mainstream acceptance could take place. “Futuresource research continues to indicate that auto-stereoscopic technology is still many years away from offering the quality and large screen viewing experience demanded by the consumer and at an affordable price point,” added Jim Bottoms, Futuresource’s Director and Co-founder. “Several key technical issues still remain: a highly restricted viewing angle and a limited number of viewing points or ‘sweet spots’ are among the primary challenges. Outside the sweet spot, the viewer sees either no 3D effect or, worse still, a reverse image which is highly uncomfortable to watch.

“Although 12-inch and 20-inch glasses-free 3DTVs are now available in Japan, designed primarily to work for a single viewer, a large screen watched by more than one person may need to display up to 100 unique views, each of which must be created separately. Even when the TV technology is in place, the production issues for live action content are still likely to be a major hurdle, as creating content for these multi-view displays requires multiple cameras and a different production/broadcast infrastructure.”

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