One-Fifth of U.S. Homes Have 3DTVs: CEA Study

Trade Group Estimates 5.6 Million Units Shipped in 2012

While 3D television sales have fallen well short of the consumer-electronics industry’s hopes, 3DTVs have steadily made headway with 21% of U.S. homes now owning at least one 3D-enabled set, according to a study by the Consumer Electronics Association.

Unit sales of 3DTVs in 2012 were an estimated 5.6 million, representing 18% of total TV sales, according to the CEA. That’s up from 8% of total TV sales in 2011.

Three years ago, at the 2010 International CES, consumer-electronics makers including Panasonic, Sony and Samsung launched 3DTVs with great fanfare, while Discovery, Sony and Imax announced plans for the dedicated 3net network and ESPN detailed its plans for ESPN 3D.

After the initial hype, the momentum behind 3D television stalled. But according to the CEA’s research, 3D video viewing in the home is increasing: 42% of 3D-capable HDTV owners watch five or more hours of 3D content per week and 9% say they’re watching more than 15 hours of 3D content weekly.

“Consumer interest in 3DTVs and 3D content continues to grow as ownership rates increase,” CEA senior research analyst Kevin Tillmann said. “Continuing to expand and innovate with 3D content will be extremely important for future usage and will continue to drive sales.”

Movies are the most common content source for viewing 3D, with 48% of 3DTV owners having watched a 3D Blu-ray disc, while 42% have watched live programming and 30% have played 3D video games. Overall, 68% of 3DTV owners rate the visual experience of 3D programming as “excellent” or “good,” the CEA found.

Meanwhile, more than one in five U.S. adults owns an Internet-connected “smart” TV and 90% of those consumers use the apps available on their displays in some capacity, according to the CEA study. Smart app users are most likely to stream video content from the Internet (61%), browse the Internet (56%) and view pictures (54%) on their connected TVs.

The trade group conducted the study, “Beyond 2D Viewing: Understanding the Demand for Advanced TelevisionFeatures,” in September 2012.