Freeview finds that 3D is not such a turn-on for viewers

By | April 26, 2012

The eagerly anticipated 100m final at the London Olympics will be televised by the BBC in 3D, but audience research by Freeview has questioned the appeal of the technology.

3D ranked only sixth out of eight different new technologies in terms of popularity in a survey of 2,000 viewers published on Wednesday.

Asked to pick three technologies out of the eight which they found most appealing, only 19% chose 3D.

The poll was topped by on-demand services such as the BBC’s iPlayer streamed directly to TV (which appealed to 62% of respondents), services offering a selection of on-demand programmes (59%), and an enhanced electronic programme guide allowing viewers to scroll backwards to stream a show that has already been broadcast as well as looking forwards (51%).

3D outranked mobile TV, which remains in its infancy chosen by 12% of the people who took part in the survey, and smartphone/tablet apps offering complementary content to programmes (6%). The other technologies included in the survey were home networking (chosen by 46%) and remote recording (25%).

Ilse Howling, managing director of Freeview, the digital terrestrial TV service, said there was early interest in 3D TV but it was not strong.

“This Olympics will be the first Olympics where just under 40% of the UK will be able to watch it in HD,” Howling said. “Even on Freeview, 3D will be available for the 100m final and opening and closing ceremonies [on the BBC].”

“That’s very exciting, but what people are actually interested in is evolution, not revolution.

“Viewers like watching television and they like technology that helps them do that more easily. They want to be able to watch programmes they love and find a better way of finding them.”

Howling said the glasses required to watch 3D TV and the cost of the higher end models was quite a barrier to the new technology, and a level of awareness among consumers that as yet there isn’t that much content in 3D.

Freeview’s pay-TV rival BSkyB was gung-ho about 3D earlier this month, reaffirming its commitment to the technology with an increased spend in 2013 as part of a five-year plan.

The broadcaster’s director of 3D John Cassy said viewer satisfaction rankings were through the roof for 3D, which was now in more than 250,000 Sky homes.

The Freeview research also suggested that live TV would continue to dominate, accounting for more than four-fifths of viewing by 2015 despite the rise of on-demand viewing.

Based on figures from Ofcom and Futuresource Consulting, Freeview forecast 78% of  TV viewing would continue to be live via Sky, Virgin Media, Freeview and Freesat by 2015, down from 88.9%. Another 2.5% would watch a simulcast online.

A further 10% of viewing would be timeshifted on viewers’ digital video recorders, and 9.5% via catch-up and video-on-demand services such as the iPlayer.

“Despite all the enormous enthusiasm and energy around the new broadband delivery of television, what people are doing most with televisions is actually watching it live … it is sort of irrelevant for the consumer,” the report said.

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