NewBay Panel Upbeat On 3DTV Acceptance

NEW YORK - Upbeat assessments of 3DTV were the rule rather than the exception during the "3DTV In A Connected World" panel at NewBay Media's Connected TV and 3D event, here, Tuesday morning.

Kris Brown of Warner Home Video (from left) with Steve Koenig of CEA, Greg Tarr of TWICE, Steven Corda of SES World Skies, Dan Schinasi of Samsung and Bryan Burns of ESPN The panel, moderated by TWICE executive editor Greg Tarr, featured a participants from several industries involved in the 3DTV rollout: Kris Brown, worldwide HD marketing VP of Warner Home Video; Bryan Burns, strategic business and development VP, ESPN; Steven Corda, North America business development VP, SES World Skies; Steve Koenig, industry analysis director, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA); and Dan Schinasi, senior marketing manager, HDTV product planning of Samsung Visual Display Product Group.

Their optimism echoed the results from the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG) study of 3DTV owners released at the conference earlier today which gave the format good reviews.

Brown, who is also chairman of the DEG 3D Working Group, said, "This is an irreversible trend. Early adopters are very satisfied. That will spread to friends and neighbors. With more programming on Blu-ray and from ESPN and other networks [3DTV] adoption rates will go even higher."

Schinasi said that in Samsung's experience with 3DTV vs. other technologies, "Consumers have been positive" and the acceptance of 3D "has been as strong as other emerging technologies" at the same point of their introduction.

CEA's Koenig said the DEG study was not a surprise. "It is similar to our studies. I agree completely that there has been a positive signal from the marketplace." He added that consumers have had an enthusiastic response with a modest amount of content and that with more programming there will be "a lot more positive outcomes to come."

Burns said that from ESPN's vantage point there are more "3D-enabled sets now ... they have rolled out more rapidly than when HDTV was introduced which has us excited."

When it comes to HDTV Burns said that "Seeing is believing." In viewing 3DTV for the first time in comparison with HDTV, "The 3D experience is more impressive ... consumers are more taken aback" by 3D programming.

Corda of SES World Skies, that transports content to cable providers via satellite, said the success of 3DTV "is all about content at this stage" and that there should be "50 3D stations" available on U.S. cable systems by 2015.

While everyone was optimistic about the acceptance of 3DTV when discussing a Quixel Research estimate of 6.2 million 3DTV unit sales for 2011, there was a little pushback by Koenig of CEA. "We issue our estimates in January and July and things do change quickly. But it may not go to 6 million this year. That is a number we are looking at for 2012."

And the oft-mentioned issue of 3D glasses was discussed. Burns noted that when consumers watched 3DTV in Monday through Friday tests conducted by ESPN during last year's World Cup, "When you wear them enough it is not an issue. In the beginning it may be an impediment but then they get used to it."

Brown quipped, "I completely agree. [Consumers] wear them in exchange for a totally excellent experience."

And both Corda and Schinasi commented that there are ongoing attempts by designer sunglasses makers and manufacturers to come up with more stylish efforts and make them fashion items.

As far as an industry standard, CEA is working on one based on three approaches which will be published in October for comments, according to Koenig.

He said the CEA's position is "standards expedite the development of the marketplace," and that it is not too late for the industry to come up with a unified standard.

When asked if the battle between active-shutter and passive 3D glasses constitutes a format war, Koenig disagreed. "This is akin to plasma vs. LCD [HD] TVs. They provide consumers options."

However Samsung's Schinasi, whose company backs active-shutter glasses, said, "The eyewear may be identical but the technology is demonstrably different," which is why his company backs the active format.

NewBay Media, which ran the event, is the parent company of TWICE.

-- Steve Smith, TWICE