The Nielsen Company in cooperation with the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) have released a report “Focusing on the 3DTV Experience.”

The research found that although most consumers love the immersive video experience of 3DTV, concerns include: issues with the 3D glasses, high costs associated with 3DTV sets and equipment, and the limited availability of 3D content. The research also indicates high interest among video gamers and heavy moviegoers will be key to spurring the initial growth.

This foundational research is the first to feature both qualitative and quantitative consumer reactions to 3DTV and, distinctively, the qualitative phase was conducted at the Las Vegas-based “CBS TV City Media Lab,” in a condominium that closely imitated a 3DTV home viewing environment. All research participants watched a 30-minute compilation video featuring a variety of 3D content examples, after which they were asked to respond to the experience.

“What’s critical here is that hundreds of study participants were reacting first-hand to watching the same 3DTV content,” said Char Beales, president and CEO, CTAM, in a statement.

Though 3DTV is in its early stages, consumers are familiar with 3D content due to the proliferation of 3D movies and exposure at theme parks. As a result, many have preconceived notions about its attributes and express strong interest in the potential of 3DTV, particularly after viewing the content.

  • Nearly three-fifths (57%) of viewers agreed 3DTV made them feel like they were “part of the action” and 48% felt it made them more engaged with what they were watching.
  • Nearly half of consumers (47%) said 3DTV would make them watch programs they wouldn’t normally watch.
  • However, a high number (77%) of consumers perceive 3DTV viewing to be better suited to special events, such as movies or sporting events, as opposed to everyday viewing.
  • The top genres consumers are interested in viewing in 3D ranged from broadly appealing genres (sports, movies, action/adventure programming) to niche genres (nature/animal shows, travel, sci-fi and music concerts).
  • Overall, 42% of respondents cited interest in playing video games in 3D, with seven-out-of-ten (71%) hardcore or regular gamers interested in experiencing video games in 3D.

“Focusing on the 3DTV Experience” also provides a reality check on the adoption challenges of 3DTV, particularly consumer reactions to the technology requirements.

“The research revealed a ‘wait and see’ attitude expressed by survey participants, which reflects an increase in consumer understanding of how new products come to market,” said Nielsen’s Frank Stagliano, EVP/GM of TV Primary Research, in a statement. “In fact, purchase interest for a 3DTV set among those planning to buy a new TV in the next 12 months decreased after seeing a demonstration of the technology, experiencing the glasses, and learning more about product costs. This suggests the majority of consumers will wait until these challenges are addressed and there is more content available before opening their wallets.”

Specifically, some of the most commonly cited reasons for lack of interest in purchasing include the cost of the set (68%), having to wear the 3D glasses (57%), and not enough 3D programming (44%).

While costs and content availability will be addressed over time, the purchase hurdle for the glasses could be a longer-term barrier. Overall, 89% felt the 3D glasses would constrain their multitasking activities as compared to 2D viewing habits in the household. More than half mentioned the glasses are a hassle and that was the reason cited by 57% of those “not likely” to purchase a 3DTV set. Consumers were also concerned with discomfort from wearing the glasses (45%).

The qualitative research phase of “Focusing on the 3DTV Experience” featured 12 focus groups of five individuals, including some families, interviewed over a four-day period. Each group was first asked a set of questions to gauge their familiarity with 3D content, and then exposed to a 30-minute clip reel of 3DTV content, followed by a one-hour discussion about their reactions to the experience.

The quantitative phase of the study included 425 randomly-selected respondents. These participants first took an online survey that assessed their prior familiarity and experience with 3D content. They then watched the same 30-minute clip reel of 3DTV content as the qualitative respondents, followed by additional survey questions about their reactions to the experience.

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