Something We Already Knew: Consumer Interest in 3-D TV Low

2010 was supposed to be the year of 3-D. More 3-D movies were released to more 3-D theaters than ever before, and the home theater industry rolled out brand new, high quality 3-D televisions, Blu-ray players, and Blu-ray discs. While 3-D continues to be pretty successful in theaters, sales of the TVs and related equipment fell far below expectations. A new research study reinforces what we already figured out on our own: People just aren’t interested in 3-D at home.

According to the Leichtman Research Group, 61% of U.S. households have at least one HDTV, and 26% have multiple HDTVs. That’s up significantly from 2005, when only 12% had any HDTV. However, less than 1% of households currently have a 3-D capable HDTV. Even though nearly 80% of adults in the U.S. have heard of 3-D TV, only 8% are very interested in buying one.

Other relevant stats:

  • 24% of all adults have seen 3-D TV.
  • 24% of those who have seen 3-D TV rate it an 8-10 (with 10 being excellent).
  • 32% of those who have seen 3-D TV rate it 1-3 (with 1 being poor).
  • 21% of all households purchased a new TV set in the past 12 months.
  • 18% of all households plan to purchase a new TV set in the next 12 months.

The backlash from those respondents rating 3-D TV as “poor” doesn’t surprise me. Some people just find 3-D gimmicky and annoying, and don’t like it at all. My wife falls into this category. These people are never going to buy 3-D TV unless something really compelling can turn them around in their opinions.

What’s more troublesome (for the consumer electronics industry) is the finding that even those who rated 3-D TV as very good to excellent seem to have little interest in buying one – despite the fact that many of them plan to buy some new TV anyway.

Just the other week, I made a statement that the 3-D TV rollout has been a disaster due to the lack of 3-D content to watch. A few of our dear readers chided me for that in the comments, but I still stand by it. It’s very difficult to convince people to spend a lot of money on a 3-D TV when there’s almost nothing 3-D to watch.

It’s going to be very interesting to see what happens in 2011. More and more manufacturers are going to incorporate 3-D as a feature into their general TV product lines (rather than just high-end models). At the same time, Hollywood is finally starting to roll out more than a handful of 3-D movies on Blu-ray. (Frustratingly, some desirable titles like ‘Avatar‘ will remain exclusive to manufacturer bundle packages.) This may be a make-or-break year for 3-D. If those two initiatives can’t get people interested in the format, it may fizzle out as just another short-lived fad.

[via Home Media Magazine]


  1. I guess I fall into the TV fanatic category, but I have no interest in 3D TV at this time. It’s more of a movie thing for me…it’s a fun way to spend 2 hours on a weekend, but I have no desire to watch all my programming this way, nor do I have any desire to see every movie this way (listening Hollywood?).

  2. I have a hard time taking these surveys seriously. It all depends on how they ask the questions. I could see most people thinking that they would have to pay extra for 3D when in fact 3D will be just a built in feature just like internet widgets and 120hz. Most TVs soon will have 3D built in and people can use it if they want or just keep watching 2D with no cost added to the TV. Sales figures and not surveys should be the real indicator.

    3D will not sell new TVs like HDTV has but they will more then adding 120/240Hz or internet widgets would as a added feature.

  3. Lahrs

    I have seen a few movies in 3D now, and while I can admit they are a gimmick, I enjoy it. For that reason, I would love to have a 3D TV. I can afford to buy one if I so choose, but like with Blu-ray, I can also afford to sit back and let another exclusive war finish before diving in.

    My lack of interest does not stem from a tiny sampling of content available, but with all of the exclusives, which is what really limits what is available to me. Until I can watch any 3D movie on any TV, I have no desire to buy a 3D TV.

    • Andy

      I think your comments perfectly explain the extremely low overall interest and adoption rate of 3D TV. I don’t think you’re the only one that believes that there is some kind of format war taking place. And you can’t currently watch any 3D movie on any TV, and this is patently false. There is no format war whatsoever. And you absolutely CAN watch ANY 3D movie on ANY 3D TV, but again, I know that you’re not in the minority believing otherwise.

      I was an extremely early adopter of the format, simply because 2010’s elite televisions, just so happened to be 3D equipped. I purchased 3 new televisions during the year (Two Panasonics and one Samsung — all 3D equipped) I recently sold Avatar Blu-ray 3D on eBay (I own two Panasonic Viera 3D televisions, so I got two copies. I couldn’t resist making a few hundred bucks), and I was shocked to learn how many people thought that they couldn’t watch that particular disc on their Samsung, Sony, or LG TV. I have viewed Blu-ray 3D discs — including Avatar — on both the Samsung and Panasonic televisions using Sony and Oppo blu-ray players, along with Pioneer and Denon receivers, and they all play perfectly, regardless of the equipment I am displaying them on.

      The consumer electronics industry has done a terrible job of accurately describing and marketing 3D TV, as well as Blu-ray 3D, and it has led to this perception that there is some type of format war, and that all Blu-ray 3D discs cannot be viewed on all TV’s or all Blu-ray players. This is quite sad. If the technology itself would have been accurately marketed and described to the consumer, I think the poll results that you mention above would be astonishingly different. If the consumer believes that certain 3D televisions and Blu-ray players will play certain Blu-ray 3D discs, and others will not, interest will remain extremely low, and the format will not survive.

  4. The problem is that the manufacturers, if they REALLY want to push 3D tv, have the ability now to pretty much scale back manufacturer of normal 2D sets and push 3D ones instead. Then even if people buy those new sets but use them for essentially 2D only, the companies will claim more and more homes have ’embraced 3D!’ The 3D films in turn will all start coming out in 3D Blu Ray releases, with 2D as an option, and no ‘2D only’ option. (Except probably cheap DVDs for that extra cash-in on a market they can’t avoid) So they can make the same claims ‘Homes embrace 3D movies!’

    Whether those glasses gather dust in the draw or not, the companies win. They’ll push and push, till the statistics say what they want, regardless of consumer demand. It’s not like other products that succeed or don’t succeed, depending on whether joe public likes ’em. If practically all new TVs end up incorporating it, then you buy a new TV and don’t really have a choice, whether you use it or not.

    3D is here to stay, regardless of our choice or opinion.

  5. Keith

    I have absolutely ZERO interest in 3D TV. Zip. Zilch. Nada. I JUST bought a new TV a year ago that is not 3d capabale, and I’m not about to buy another one anytime soon unless of course if it breaks. Even then I don’t think I’d buy a 3D set because they’re just too expensive and don’t even get me started on the cost of the stupid glasses.

    Additionally for me, since I use an HTPC, the software I use (ArcSoft Total Media Theater) is 3D ready but my hardware is not which means in the very least I’d need a new graphics card.

    • “because they’re just too expensive…”

      This exact quote is the main problem for the TV manufactures public perception of 3D TVs. But that quote is half right and half wrong. 3D is feature found on the top of the line TVs right now. They’d be expensive with or without 3D. In fact those models are cheaper then they were compared to last years models. There’s no separate just 3D model TV like everyone seems to think. When they bring 3D as a new feature to the middle range(as seen at this years CES) and low cost TV models people can just go back to saying the glasses are to expansive which they are and not the TV.

  6. Nala

    Who wants a TV you can’t let your kids watch? Nintendo’s recent warning is just one of many expert voices saying 3D harms children’s eye development – and gives some adults headaches. This is because the distance where you see something in 3D doesn’t match the screen distance where your eyes focus – a discrepancy our eyes are not designed for.

  7. John

    I’ve seen a 3D TV twice now, and I think the effect is great, but could be better. My main complaint is that occassionally while watching, particularly during any fast moving visual, there seems to be frames missing from the effect making it look a bit choppy. Not sure if this can be corrected, but it bugs me enough to not want one until it is corrected (if it even can be).

    Another problem is definitely the lack of 3D material out there. When I think of 3D I see pictures of CGI family films like disney and pixar, and to a lesser extent animal docos and poorly made horror films. I don’t mind watching any of these types of films, but if I bought a 3D TV now, this is mostly what I’d be limited to.