View­ers fail to turn on to 3D tele­vi­sion

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - SATURDAY EXTRA -

Orlins knows ev­ery­thing about pro­duc­ing TV in three di­men­sions. The ESPN pro­ducer has cap­tured the un­du­lat­ing greens of Au­gusta Na­tional at the Masters, and the fly­ing mo­tor bikes of the X-Games for ESPN’s 3D chan­nel.

He can only guess how well his shows res­onate with view­ers. That’s be­cause US 3D au­di­ences are so small they can’t be mea­sured by Nielsen’s rat­ing sys­tem. ‘‘The feed­back on the Masters was fast and fu­ri­ous. You could go on Twit­ter at any mo­ment and there’d be com­ments com­ing in ev­ery minute about 3D cov­er­age,’’ Orlins says. ‘‘But then you go to some other events where it’s pretty quiet.’’

Orlins’ prob­lem is that fewer than 115,000 Amer­i­can homes are tuned into 3D chan­nels at any one time. That’s less than a hun­dredth of the 20.2 mil­lion-strong au­di­ence that saw tele­vi­sion’s high­est-rated show NCIS this week. 3D view­er­ship is so tiny The Nielsen Co’s meth­ods are un­able to cap­ture any mean­ing­ful data about view­ers’ pro­gram­ming pref­er­ences.

ESPN 3D is one of nine 3D chan­nels that launched fol­low­ing the 2009 re­lease of James Cameron’s Avatar. This 3D block­buster was sup­posed to change ev­ery­thing. En­thu­si­as­tic tele­vi­sion ex­ec­u­tives expected Avatar to spur 3D’s tran­si­tion to US liv­ing rooms. That never hap­pened. Only 2 per cent of TVs in the US are able to show 3D pro­gram­ming.

Why 3D tele­vi­sion hasn’t be­come a craze is a mys­tery to the in­dus­try, con­sid­er­ing the wide ac­cep­tance of 3D movies at theatres. But 3D con­tent is ex­pen­sive to pro­duce, and as a re­sult there’s not a lot of it. Some peo­ple find the spe­cial glasses re­quired for 3D TV un­com­fort­able. Many won­der whether it’s worth the ex­tra cost. Here’s an­other awk­ward point: some peo­ple just don’t like 3D.

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