Consumer engagement with 3D remains low

Sales of 3D TVs are on the rise in the US as first quarter volumes grew nearly 74 per cent in units and 64 per cent in revenue over last year, according to market research company The NPD Group. 3D TVs accounted for 11 per cent of all flat-panel TV sales in Q1, nearly double that of last year, and 22 per cent of all 40+ inch sets sold were 3D.

While sales continue to grow, the majority of consumers still feel 3D is not a crucial television feature. According to The NPD Group’s most recent 3D 360 Monitor survey (March 2012), just 14 per cent of consumers interested in, or expecting to purchase, a flat-panel television in the next 6 months, say 3D is a “must have” feature while 68 per cent say it’s a “nice feature to have they may use in the future.”

“3D has been a success for the television market from a sales perspective,” said Ben Arnold, director of industry analysis for The NPD Group. “However, few consumers cite watching content in 3D as a reason for purchasing a TV, indicating that other factors such as screen size, resolution, and Internet connectivity hold more importance.”

As an experiential technology, displays and demos at retail are an important component to raising awareness and adoption of 3D. In person, many consumers who try 3D rate it positively with nearly three quarters (70 per cent) saying they were “impressed” or “amazed” by an in-store 3D demo.

Wearing 3D glasses, the cost of sets and accessories, and access to content remain barriers to adoption. While 3D sets have become more affordable since entering the market (average prices in April 2010 were 33 per cent lower compared to April 2010) glasses-free 3D TVs have yet to enter the market, likely deterring the 80 per cent of consumers who consider 3D glasses a drawback to owning the technology. Content availability as an adoption inhibitor is waning, though the absence of a nationwide 3D network or channel makes it difficult for consumers to plan 3D viewing. Among consumers not interested in 3D TV, 14 per cent say content availability is a purchase inhibitor, down from 21 per cent in May 2011.

“In addition to movies and gaming, sports are essential to growing 3DTV ownership. Nearly six-in-ten sports fans are interested in watching games and matches in 3D,” said Arnold. “This summer, manufacturers and content providers can leverage large scale events like the Olympics in London and the Euro 2012 soccer tournament by televising and marketing 3D technology. Our research suggests ownership of 3D TV doesn’t necessarily mean consumers have adopted the technology. Getting owners to put on glasses and watch content is the real measure of 3D’s success.”

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