Content Remains Big Factor in Growth of 3-D Market

By | September 1, 2009 | Broadcasting, Editor's Note, Telecom

I was never a fan of the 3-D movies I saw in theaters growing up in the 80s, but based on the 3-D HD demonstrations I’ve seen recently, I’m casting my vote as a believer in its potential.

We have seen demonstrations organized by International Datacasting, Panasonic and Singtel throughout the past several months, and while HD remains far from being the standard for broadcast entertainment, it is interesting to see how much progress has been made on the technology for delivering this next generation of HD content. 3-D HD is the natural next step in high-quality video, and some believe its evolution will move from Blu-ray discs for games and movies to sports broadcasting.

The presentation organized in April at NAB by International Datacasting was tantalizing, with videos of separate 3-D HD efforts of the production of a football game and a music video interspersed with discussions of the technology, the production and the future potential.

The demonstration also was perfectly timed with a release from The Society of Motion Pictures and Television Engineers citing various broadcasting officials as "bullish on the revenue-generating opportunities of 3D." Movies released in 3-D generate two to three times the revenue of the same titles in 2-D, and in some cases, as much as six times revenue of traditional 2-D releases, the organization said.

After witnessing 3-D HD firsthand, it’s hard for me not to agree with this excitement.

Moving on to CommunicAsia in June, we caught 3-D HD presentations by Panasonic and Singtel. The technology continued to impress, especially Singtel’s 3-D video game demonstration, which delivers 3-D images without the use of special glasses. The takeaway from Panasonic’s effort was that while 3-D HD is an impressive technology, demand for any service still is driven by compelling content. The fact that something is broadcast in 3-D HD alone is not enough to make it a compelling business proposition.

There are a lot of different aspects to 3-D HD, and the cover story this month serves mainly as an introduction to the technology development, early market penetration and the future hopes of the sector. There is no doubt that there is enough going on in the 3-D HD world that our future coverage will break down each of these aspects of the sector independently and in greater detail.

Support for 3-D HD’s economic viability can be found elsewhere in this issue of Via Satellite, as David Haslingden, CEO, National Geographic Channels International & National Geographic Channel U.S. and CEO, Fox International Channels, and Russell Wolff, executive vice president and managing director of ESPN International, both stressed in separate discussions with Via Satellite the importance of content in their broadcasting business models.

(Please check out Wolff’s comments in our Broadcasters Corner, a new feature that will provide insights from a different broadcaster each month.)

The current video technology environment has created a very dynamic market for 3-D HD. BSkyB has even announced plans to launch a 3-D channel in the United Kingdom in 2010. We expect others will soon follow.

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