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HBO CTO: 3DTV is 'dead'

A top executive with premium cable net HBO has gone public with the opinion that 3DTV and 4K ultra HD TV are essentially dead in the water.

Bob Zitter, executive vice president and CTO at HBO, is due to leave HBO at the end of March but took the opportunity of a speaking turn at the TV Connect event in London to note that 3D with glasses was a failure, and that ultra HD has a very hard road ahead in order to succeed.

"We never thought that 3D with glasses was ever going to get off the ground," Zitter told show attendees. "Consumers have shown they do not want to wear glasses in the home. 3D with glasses is dead."

As for stereoscopic, glasses-free 3D technology, he added that it is likely to be many, many years before it becomes the norm in residential 3D systems.

When it comes to 4K TV content, Zitter was equally unenthused: "I'm very sceptical that consumers are going to want to buy it," he said.

He said that because screens need to be at least 60" in order for the viewer to tell the difference between HD and ultra HD, and only about 25-30% of homes have the living room space for that size, the addressable market is automatically limited. Also, 4K sets are out of the price range of most consumers, costing from $15,000 to $40,000.

"Zitter's comments on 4K should concern TV makers who are increasing their investment in new 4K sets," said analysts at TV Predictions. "If channels such as HBO are reluctant to produce in 4K — and there is already a dearth of programming available in the format — it will be increasingly difficult to persuade consumers to buy the sets, regardless of price."

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