It’s going to be hard
getting most consumers off the
3DTV sidelines anytime soon.

People are interested in 3DTV
for certain special events and
programming, and would expect
to pay an average of $20 more
per month to get 3D service from
their pay TV provider, according
to a study conducted by Nielsen
that was commissioned by the
Cable & Telecommunications Association
for Marketing.

But multiple issues — not least
of which is the hassle of wearing
glasses — threaten to put
the brakes on adoption. Of consumers
in the market for a new
TV set, 29% said they would consider
purchasing a 3DTV set in
the next 12 months. That means
the majority currently expect to
stick with conventional 2D televisions,
according to the CTAM/
Nielsen research.

In fact, purchase interest
among those planning to buy a
new TV in the next year actually
decreased after they saw a 3DTV
demonstration, experienced the
glasses and learned more about
product costs, said Frank Stagliano,
Nielsen’s executive vice
president and general manager
of TV Primary Research. The survey
of 425 consumers, who first
watched a 30-minute reel of 3DTV
programming, was conducted in
June and July 2010.

That suggests that most people
“will wait until these challenges
are addressed and there is more
content available before opening
their wallets,” Stagliano said.

To get 3D televisions and content
in front of consumers, the
Consumer Electronics Association
teamed up with ESPN — as well as
Comcast, DirecTV and AT&T — for
demonstrations showcasing threedimensional
sports programming
at hundreds of electronics retailers
nationwide this past weekend
(Sept. 10-12). Retailers participating
in the “National 3D Demo
Days” event included Best Buy,
CompUSA, Fry’s Home Electronics,
Sam’s Club, Sears and independent
specialty retailers.

The parties hope that, for consumers
on the fence, seeing 3DTV
will be believing. According to
CEA research, among consumers
who have seen 3DTV, 46% rated
the experience as “excellent”
and 79% rated the visual experience

But of course, even a positive 3D
experience doesn’t guarantee someone
will ultimately purchase a set.
The CTAM/Nielsen study found
the most commonly cited reasons
for lack of interest in purchasing
a 3DTV include the cost of the
set (68%), having to wear the 3D
glasses (57%) and not enough 3D
programming (44%).

The need to wear glasses to
view 3D content continues to be
a big stumbling block. Overall,
89% of those surveyed felt the
3D glasses would constrain their
multi-tasking activities and 45%
expressed concern that wearing
the glasses was uncomfortable.

“I was surprised by the resistance
to the glasses,” Stagliano
said. “We knew it was an issue,
but it really upset people.”

About 77% agreed that 3DTV
was better suited to special
events, such as movies or sporting
events, as opposed to everyday
viewing. “People love it more
for special events than regular
viewing,” CTAM president and
CEO Char Beales said.

Survey respondents also indicated
they expect to pay more
for a 3D television service. When
asked how much they would be
willing to pay to add 3D service
to their current TV service plan,
on average consumers were willing
to pay $20 extra monthly, but
reported a range of $5 to $40 per
month. “Right now, it’s difficult
to gauge the incremental value”
of a 3D programming service,
Stagliano said.

The 425 randomly selected
participants first took an online
survey that assessed their prior
familiarity and experience with
3D content. They then watched
the 30-minute clip reel of 3DTV
content, followed by additional
survey questions about their reactions
to the experience. In addition,
Nielsen conducted 12 focus
groups of five individuals each,
including some families, interviewed
over a four-day period.

According to Beales, the survey
is the first with a large group
of consumers who watched 3D
programming and experienced
it firsthand before they were interviewed.