CTAM Summit: Cosgrove Foresees 20-40 3D Channels In Five Years

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Complete CTAM Summit 2010 coverage

New Orleans -- It may be early days for 3D TV, but Tom Cosgrove sees rapid expansion for the technology.

Cosgrove, the president and CEO of the 3DTV network joint venture of Discovery, Sony and IMAX, speaking here at a CTAM Summit 2010 panel session, "How Does 3D Sharpen Stories and Brands?" Tuesday morning, said he "hopes to see 20 to 30 to 40 3D channels over the next five years." The JV service is expected to bow early in 2011, joining ESPN 3D and DirecTV's trio of services in the new category.

He acknowledged "not everyone is going to do it, not all will see the potential." However, he averred that there isn't a TV genre that wouldn't benefit from a 3D perspective. "Field reports for newscasts would be amazing," he said.

Louis Tarantino, co-founder and executive producer of Flight 33 Productions, which is working on Abandoned Planet, a series exploring places devoid of humanity that will air on the JV's 3D service, said that more and more people are approaching the company about projects.

Tarantino said shooting documentaries in 3D requires more preparation work and the efforts don't always immediately yield the desired result, but "we've learned to do it and learned to do it on a cable budget."

At ESPN 3D, which has aired World Cup, MLB's Home Run Derby, X Games and has been producing about a college football game per week in the format, there are still issues relative to number of cameras, shooting positions and separate announcer team for the contests, according to Phil Orlins, coordinating producer, ESPN 3D and X Games. However, the feedback, he said, from consumers and press has been largely positive.

"The experience is so far beyond [traditional TV]. Viewers say they can get so close, it's almost indistinguishable from being at the event," Orlins said.

Impediments about the price of 3D TV sets, complexities and costs of filming in the dimension and various ergonomics related to the glasses aside, the panelists concluded content, as it is in other media and platforms, is king, and that far more of it is needed. Espousing their passion for their projects and the nascent platform, they said that when people see 3D, they want it.

But judging by panelists reaction, not that many have that capacity or appetite - just yet.

Session moderator Mark Garner, senior vice president digital distribution and affiliate marketing, A&E Television Networks, asked by a show of hands, how many people in the room owned 3D sets -- only two answered in the affirmative, and only another pair indicated their intent to purchase the equipment this holiday season.

Offering more hope for when content is produced, Garner asked session attendees to evince their interest in watching various genres in 3D. There was very strong support for natural history fare, sports, animation and action movies, and a good response to documentaries. Music videos inspired a smattering of response, which certainly topped the educational/learning arena. There, attendees kept their arms at their sides.

More scientific and detailed results from a CTAM qualitative study about consumers' 3DTV experiences is available at www.ctam.com/3dtv.