Consumers Are Excited About 3D-TVs at Home–Until They Try One

For a solid two years now, TV manufacturers have been insisting that 3D-TVs at home are the next big thing. According to a recent survey, consumers agree–until they actually try one out.


3-D technology has been around for decades, but it’s only in the past few years that the tech community has really started to push it. That’s partly thanks to a few major blockbusters (Spy Kids 3D, Avatar) that convinced these companies that 3-D is now viable, but it’s also due to the general malaise of film revenue since the piracy revolution.

3-D films often cost 50% more in theaters than traditional non-3-D movies–that’s how Avatar made such ridiculous money–and in a time when piracy is taking a major bite out of revenues, that price differential is incredibly valuable.

On the hardware side, 3-D is finally cheap enough and advanced enough to put into home entertainment, including computer monitors, cameras, video game consoles, and HDTVs. For hardware manufacturers (one of whom, Sony, is both a film studio and a hardware company, and is unsurprisingly leading the charge for 3D-TV), this is a chance to get consumers to shell out for another TV, even if they just made the upgrade to HDTV.

Over the past two years, Sony, Panasonic, LG, and Samsung have stormed every tech convention possible with 3-D. The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the country’s biggest, has been so packed with 3D-TVs recently that 3-D glasses are practically required gear. 3D, say these companies, is a revolution of immersion. It will change the way you experience entertainment. You will want it, and want it enough to shell out a few grand for new equipment.

As it turns out, according to a recent Nielsen study, that might not be true. The study measured consumer interest in 3D-TV both before and after being actually exposed to one, and came out with some pretty interesting findings. Though a full 25% said they were “very likely” to buy a 3D-TV set in the next year, after actually using one, that number dropped by more than half, to 12%. And though before testing a 3D-TV only 13% said they were “not at all likely” to buy a set in the next year, after testing that number jumped to a whopping 30%.

The main concerns held by those surveyed include the prohibitively high cost of the 3D-TV set (a premium of anywhere from $500 to $1,000 over an already pricey non-3D set), the lack of 3D content, and, notably, irritation with having to wear 3-D glasses all the time. Some of those problems can be fixed–prices will eventually come down, and if 3D is popular enough, the amount of content will go up–but the glasses are here to stay.


More troubling is that less than half (48%–only slightly less, but still less) felt that 3-D made them more engaged with what they were watching. That suggests to me that 3-D may simply not be more enjoyable than non-3-D, that it may not really enhance the viewing experience.

The only really good news is on the gaming front, with a whopping 71% of self-identifying “hardcore” gamers showing significant interest in 3-D.

What do you all think? Is 3-D at home destined for ubiquity or the gimmick file?

Dan Nosowitz, the author of this post, can be followed on Twitter, corresponded with via email, and stalked in Brooklyn (no link for that one–you’ll have to do the legwork yourself).

About the author

Dan Nosowitz is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Popular Science, The Awl, Gizmodo, Fast Company, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. He holds an undergraduate degree from McGill University and currently lives in Brooklyn, because he has a beard and glasses and that's the law.