May 11, 2010
By Seth Arenstein and Michael Grebb
Since viewers will need special TVs and special glasses, how does that complicate things?
Burns: The research I have seen says that potential viewers complain about glasses until the first time they wear them. Then they say "it was no big deal." And that was true for me, and I wear the glasses over my regular glasses. In my view, the rollout of 3D TV's will happen faster than HD for a few reasons. The price differential from HD to 3D will not be nearly as dramatic as it was from SD to HD, which will impact consumers in two ways—one is simple affordability; the second is that the percentage of screens on the shelf at retail will move to 3D much faster than we experienced with SD to HD. Also, consumers had no concept of HD, other than it was going to be a "clearer, wider" picture, which was of questionable benefit when you hadn't seen the upgrade for yourself. With 3D, you have seen Alice in Wonderland, Up and Avatar. You know what to expect, and all indications are that you like it.
Honeycutt: Nothing brings you closer to being there than strong 3D programming. If the programming delivers, people will wear the glasses.
Chuck, could we be looking at a standards war in the 3D area similar to the Betamax vs VHS battle?
Pagano: I would not call it a war but it’s definitely a complex challenge. Distributor "A" has requested we send 3D content encoded in side by side panels. Distributor "B" has also asked us to deliver 3D content, except they want it encoded for the top bottom panel approach. Distributor "C" has requested our 3D video to be set as checkerboard coding. It's not a war, but it’s messy, confusing and inefficient without a standardized platform. We have historically had similar challenges as it relates to international distribution of our standard definition content (PAL, PAL-M, SECAM etc) with the same complexity and inefficiency but we worked through them without missing a beat. As it relates to 3D it concerns me, but I have a team of people who are a lot smarter than I am telling me that we'll be fine. They haven't disappointed me in 30 years, so I'm sleeping well each and every night.
Honeycutt: I think the industry learned from past standards wars and is off the right foot with developing a consistent set of standards for 3D from the very beginning.
What do you think will be the biggest surprise stemming from the 3D rollout? In what ways might it unfold unexpectedly?
Honeycutt: I think the advertising opportunity is interesting. The ability for a car manufacturer, for example, to allow you "sit" inside a car is something that may be of interest. In the home sales market, people love "virtual tours," so you may see an opportunity for people to move through environments as they have never experienced before.
Is this just the beginning of 3D sports programming? In other words, do you feel 3D coverage of sports will improve with time in terms of acuity, camera angles, etc?
Pagano: I keep referring to current 3DTV as a science project and that we're minimizing the distance between what we know and what we don't know each day. We are in the very early stages of applying this new technological platform and nurturing its development. We will definitely be seeing better and improved stories and content as our learning and experience develops and grows.