ESPN Releases 3D Survey

ESPN has released a report noting that most consumers are comfortable with 3D and even enjoy it more than HD. The research was conducted during ESPN’s coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

In its study, ESPN Research + Analytics, the sports network’s research arm, used an experimental design approach including the use of perception analyzers, eye gaze and electrodermal activity. The study focused on a multitude of topics including overall viewing enjoyment, fatigue and novelty effects, technology differences, production issues and advertising impact. In all over 700 measures were processed during the testing. The Ad Lab used five different 3D manufacturers in its testing.

"The results from this comprehensive research project support what we have said time and time again – fans have a higher level of enjoyment when viewing 3D. Plus, for advertisers, this study provides good news on the level of fan engagement when viewing 3D ads,” said Artie Bulgrin, senior vice president of ESPN Research + Analytics. “This study will help us continue to develop ESPN 3D as an industry leader for event-based 3D viewing.”

Viewers who saw the same ad in 2D and 3D gave significantly higher scores across all ad performance metrics and showed better recall of the ads. Cued recall went from 68 percent to 83 percent, and on average, the intent to purchase a product based on a 3D ad increased from 49 percent to 83 percent. Those who liked an ad in 3D as opposed to 2D went from 67 percent to 84 percent. Viewers’ enjoyment of content went from 65 percent to 70 percent if the content was in 3D, while the increased “sense of presence” went from 42 percent to 69 percent. Although there were no major differences between passive and active 3DTV sets, participants preferred passive glasses as “more comfortable” and “less distracting.” As for health effects, ESPN said the study found that there were no adverse side effects on depth perception (stereopsis) and participants tended to adjust well to 3D over time under normal use.

Participants were tested prior to 3D viewing, in test and post test to garner a wide range of information. Testing was completed at the Disney Media & Advertising Lab in Austin, Texas, which was developed to better understand the emotional drivers of audience behavior and physiological reactions to advertising. The facility conducts year-round tests using the most advanced research techniques including biometric measurement tolls to evaluate engagement and emotional responses. This research was conducted by Professor Duane Varan, Executive Director and Chief Research Officer of the Disney Media & Advertising Lab, and his staff. Varan, recognized as a global innovator in iTV applied research and one of the foremost authorities on new media, is the Executive Director of the Interactive Television Research Institute and holds the inaugural chair in New Media at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia.

The release of the study comes at a time when news reports have quoted ESPN officials questioning whether or not 3DTV is worth it. This drew a response from ESPN’s vice president of strategic business planning and development Bryan Burns earlier this week, in which he defended the network's commitment to the format and said its resolve to continue programming 3D, at least into a second year, “is not lessened.”