The End of 3D in the Home?

A few thoughts on the future of 3D television following the BBC’s decision to suspend all 3D programming

“The BBC is to suspend 3D programming for an indefinite period due to a “lack of public appetite” for the technology.”

The BBC have announced today that they’re ending (for now at least) their 3D programming efforts. After a two year trial (including coverage of the Olympics and Wimbledon), they are now suspending all further 3D programming.

Truthfully, I’m not surprised. I’m yet to be convinced by the mainstream appeal of 3D television in the home. I get it (for the most part) when it comes to going to the cinema, but in the home, putting on glasses is, as Kim Shillinglaw, the BBC’s head of 3D readily admits, “quite hassily”.

That only 5 percent of people with 3D televsions even used the 3D technology over the Christmas period is hugely revealing.

The way we watch television has changed dramatically in recent years. Going to the cinema is an immersive experience that you are fully engaged with. So the appeal of 3D there makes sense. But in the home, most of us have the television on whilst we’re doing other things at the same time. We’re on our laptops, iPads, or smartphones much of the time we’re watching TV. And that just doesn’t work if you’re needing to wear 3D glasses.

That said, I wouldn’t completely write off 3D television. It is still a technology in development. My sense is that, once we can watch in 3D without any need for glasses, the floodgates could open. Until then, I think it’ll stuggle to get mainstream traction.

Ultimately, I think this tells us that humans value multi-tasking (and ease of use) over and above whatever benefits 3D television has to offer.

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