The 3DTV experience

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Technology continues to march on at warp speed—but we, as consumers, apparently aren’t always so willing, ready and able to go along for the ride; no matter how bigger, better, faster or more awe-inspiring the newest toy may be. Take 3DTV. 3DTV—really?

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I am still trying to identify all of my HDTV channels and trying to figure out the technology that must exist to enable them to pop up automatically whenever I turn on the TV instead of having to hunt for them. And, now I have to prep myself for 3DTV? I’m a little hesitant.

Apparently, according to my employer, The Nielsen Co., I am not alone in my trepidation. As the leading market research company in the world, measuring consumer trends in virtually everything you read, watch, use and buy—it is Nielsen’s job to know. According to a comprehensive new report, “Focusing on the 3DTV Experience,” we conducted recently in cooperation with the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM), research participants largely expressed a “wait and see” attitude towards this latest generation in television. “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 (57 percent) and learning more about product costs (68 percent),” explained my Nielsen colleague Frank Stagliano, who is EVP/GM of TV Primary Research. Forty-four percent of respondents also expressed concern over a lack of 3D programming.

Right now, the lowest price for a 3DTV is around $1,700. However, a set with all the bells and whistles could run as high as $6,000 or $7,000. And there’s also the special 3DTV gear you’ll need: the 3D Blu-ray player goes for about $400. And, while your new 3DTV will come with one or two pairs of 3D glasses, you may have to spend another $150 for each additional pair of the special glasses; that is, if you have children and/or plan to ever share your 3D viewing experience with anyone else who might want to watch a movie with you. And, as for those glasses, isn’t it bad enough that I have to keep up with the remote control? Now, I have to add special glasses to the mix? Eighty-nine percent of the people in the study also felt that the 3D glasses would constrain their ability to multitask while watching TV. You know how we do—read, pay bills, talk on the phone, catch up on e-mails, text, surf the net, cook, pick up around the house—all while “watching” TV. Do I really want to see my bills and family room clutter in 3D, if I have to walk around wearing the glasses? That could be a horror experience within itself.

On the plus side Nielsen’s study showed that for 3DTV, that experience of being there is what nearly three-fifths (57 percent) of the study participants most enjoyed, reporting that 3DTV made them feel as though they were “part of the action.” Forty-eight percent felt it made them more engaged with what they were watching. A high number (77 percent) of consumers noted that 3DTV viewing would be best suited for special events like movies or sporting events, as opposed to everyday viewing. Forty-two percent of respondents saw the advantage of playing video games in 3D.

As might be expected, hardcore video gamers (71 percent) expressed interest in the 3D gaming experience. They, along with early adopters (those who have got to be the first to have the latest technology) and heavy moviegoers say they would likely buy a 3DTV set within the next 12 months, despite the relative infancy of the technology.

Lastly, the Nielsen research suggests that if 3DTV manufacturers and content producers can satisfactorily iron out all the kinks and consumer concerns, in the technology, consumers might actually embrace the technology. Well, maybe. Who can assure me that I won’t have to start digging around the nooks and crannies of my sofa for misplaced 3D glasses? A girl can only handle so much complication in life for the sake of enjoyment.

(Cheryl Pearson-McNeil is senior vice president of public affairs and government relations for the Nielsen Co. For more trends and insights go to http://www.nielsenwire.com.)

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