Is 3D already in trouble? Quite possibly, and there’s a few data points to back up that claim. As you know, Christopher Nolan has announced a few things pertaining to the next Batman movie, namely its name (the Dark Knight Rises), that The Riddler won’t be in it (much to fans’ chagrin), and that it won’t be filmed in 3D. I’m pretty sure the previous Batman movie, the Dark Knight, was a gigantic success, so to not film it in 3D is quite the snub. Sorry, 3D, but the prettiest girl at the dance wants nothing to do with you. (Stupid metaphors are stupid.)
Now there’s word that ESPN 3D isn’t doing too well, either.
The channel, which launched in time for the 2010 World Cup (which, incidentally, comes out on 3D Blu-ray in two weeks), will come under review in early 2011 to see if carrying it makes business sense. No use having to produce and/or license content for a channel that nobody watches, or that nobody can watch.
The primary problem, as ESPN’s Senior Director of Technology, Johnathan Pannaman, told a European business conference, is that ESPN is “still not sure what makes sense for 3DTV, and we don’t yet see a proven ROI [return on investment].”
So, ESPN doesn’t know what works when it comes to 3D sports broadcasts, and there’s no money in it. It’s not too dissimilar to what ESPN said at IFA in September: filming sports in 3D is tricky.
Pannaman then said ESPN is looking forward to this holiday season, because then, hopefully, people will buy 3DTVs en masse, and the channel will at least have the potential viewership to be viable.
Then again, you look at something like the unemployment rate for the U.S., and you wonder how many people are even in the position to upgrade to a 3DTV, perhaps only a few years after they upgraded to an HDTV.
Recent sales data suggested as much, that not too many people were upgrading to 3DTV. You know the reasons: 3DTVs are expensive, wearing 3D glasses is cumbersome, and there’s no 3D content.
That last point is cyclical: if consumers see there’s no 3D content out there why should they buy a 3DTV? And if consumers don’t buy 3DTVs why should companies like ESPN invest in producing 3D content?
We’re looking at a situation where 3D technology is still very new—you’ll recall the torrid time Sony had filming the 2010 World Cup in 3D—and consumers, for a variety of reasons, aren’t all that interested just yet.
Hopefully this doesn’t come as a shock to you, because we’ve been saying it pretty much all year long.