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3DTV – as the US dives, international thrives

June 27, 2012

In a guest commentary, Torsten Hoffmann from 3D Content Hub provides an excellent perspective on the international 3DTV market, which is experiencing unprecedented growth as the US struggles to find its footing. Torsten’s comments were originally in response to a Linkedin discussion about our 6/23 posting “DirecTV pulls plug on 24-hour 3D channel,” but he graciously gave us permission to use as a separate post. Enjoy!


Torsten Hoffmann from 3D Content Hub:

Let me just add a global viewpoint here. It is important to realize that this is a US incident. The 3D industry has had a tough time in this market, and judging from our business (we sell 3D content), the US is probably not even in the Top 5 in terms of licensing revenues indie 3D filmmakers generate. In many (not all) places abroad 3D is doing very well. Due to govt support, cheaper hardware, stronger hardware sales/replacement rates/the economy, better production ecosystems, etc. But in my mind, there really is no other market with better 3D content than the USA. Here the few buyers have been extremely selective and can benefit from the best relationships with the studios, blue chip doc makers, sport franchises … nowhere else is so much/so good quality 3D content in the market, Yet, in places with limited content, 3D is doing much better. Something to think about !

Re: lack of content much has been said here already so rather than repeating/agreeing just one point: there is NO indication anywhere that 3D content production is stalling. Not sure where this idea comes from, but this is clearly wrong. Sport is huge. Animation and documentaries are 3D almost ‘by default’ now. Hollywood will soon release some non-action drama type of films in 3D (Life of Pi, Great Gatsby), which is a huge signal. I see new 3D content from all corners of the world every week. The equipment and the filmmakers are getting better all the time. And the price premium for producing 3D is dropping fast (+8% in case of Prometheus, +20% for many non-fiction genres) while the additional income opportunities from box office alone will make 3D a no-brainer.

And yes, this discussion goes back to the typical chicken-and-egg problem (no content, no TV, vice versa), that many new technologies face. imho, publicly traded companies are governed by quarterly financial results and this makes taking a long term view much more difficult. In markets where planning cycles are longer (think Chinese government 5 year plans), or where one payTV incumbent owns 80% of the market (think UK), industry players can introduce 3D at a slower pace without looking at subscriber numbers every week. Also there are markets where consumer behaviour leads to additional avenues to monetize 3D production (4D in Korea, 3D BluRay in Germany), …

In short: From a 3D content producer’s point of view 2012 is about 5 times better than 2011.

I am no expert on DirecTV but I wrote a blog entry about the death of a French 3D channel 6 months ago and the same may be true in this case:

“You cannot satisfy your audience with a few fresh hours per week and a high rate of re-runs. Instead it would have been wise to invest into acquiring 2-3 year broadcasting rights for various genres. Documentaries, Arts/Performances, Independent Films, Animation. Many large corporations focus too heavily on blockbuster movies (mostly action) and top sport events. Both are very expensive and have a limited shelf life. In fact, most sport events lose their entire commercial value after the initial live broadcast. In comparison you can achieve a much larger and more diverse content portfolio with small pocket change. This lineup will also satisfy a wider demographic (not only the male in the household)”

Interestingly this article still gets more views than any of my better blogposts – I guess we just all like to read/discuss about failed initiatives 🙂


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