“Let our rigorous testing and reviews be your guidelines to A/V equipment – not marketing slogans”
Facebook Youtube Twitter instagram pinterest

The Death of 3D TV

by January 29, 2017

Remember that time you watched a 3D movie on Blu-ray and said to yourself, "Wow, this 3D effect brings a lot to the movie, I can see why so many people love it"? No? Well, you’re not alone. Outside of a small group of enthusiasts, 3D never really caught on. Even those who enjoyed the medium (myself included) will tell you that part of the problem with the 3D renaissance of the 2000s is that it suffered severe over-exposure from film studios and consumer electronics companies. The hype predictably lead to trouble for the standard and before you knew it, what should rightly have been no more than an added feature for certain films, suddenly became the laughing stock of recent film history. Only a handful of movies used 3D visuals effectively, but that didn’t stop a flood of movies with faux 3D effects overlaid onto a film that was shot in 2D. By 2015, the market was overwhelmed with overly dark, hazy movies with terrible 3D effects nobody wanted to sit through. To add insult to visual injury, movie theaters and Blu-ray discs got away with charging a premium for making movies worse.

It should be no surprise that the inevitable has finally happened… the last 3D TV manufacturers, LG and Sony, have disclosed that they will end production on 3D sets for 2018. It’s a sad end to a visual format that occasionally was implemented impeccably by the likes of James Cameron and others who put time and effort into making movies and shooting visual effects specifically for 3D.

The Long Demise of 3D TV

AvatarIn the early days of 2010, when manufacturers were hoping 3D TV would give sales a shot in the arm, the warning signs of its demise were already there. Studios were ramping up the volume of second-rate 3D movies, and theaters were charging a premium for them at the box office. The Blu-ray disc aberrations would cost you extra too. Between premium priced ticket sales, downstream revenue for 3D titles on Blu-ray and new hardware (TVs, Blu-ray players) to reproduce 3D at home, studios and consumer electronics manufacturers were all complicit in smothering their 3D baby in its crib. 

But it didn’t have to be that way! Movies in 3D could be beautiful - like James Cameron’s Avatar, which elevated the form by shooting in 3D and building scenes specifically designed for 3D immersion. But those solid efforts were drowned by the tide of junk, and the result was the perception that 3D was just another price gouge and an excuse to get people to buy a new TV they didn’t need.

The Experts Agreed - 3D TV Wasn't Selling

3D TVAudioholics was among those who forecasted 3D TV as a flop. Today, our prediction has come to fruition, and the story of 3D TV is now the stuff of cautionary tales for industry analysts like Ben Arnold at NPD.

"...that Sony and LG dropped 3D says that consumers have moved on to other purchase motivators for TV," Executive Director at NPD Ben Arnold says. "Things like 4K/UHD, HDR and even smart have become the key features along with screen size that consumers are buying on."

According to NPD, 3D TV sales have declined every year since 2012. In 2016, 3D TV made up only 8-percent of TV sales. That figure was down from 16-percent in 2015.

LG's Director of New Product Development Tim Alessi said of his company’s decision to drop 3D:

“3D capability was never really universally embraced in the industry for home use, and it's just not a key buying factor when selecting a new TV," he said. "Purchase process research showed it's not a top buying consideration, and anecdotal information indicated that actual usage was not high. We decided to drop 3D support for 2017 in order to focus our efforts on new capabilities such as HDR, which has much more universal appeal."

Clunky Glasses = Existential Deficit

3D GlassesWhy were consumers so ambivalent toward home 3D? There's more to it than just pricey sub-par 3D movies.

The effect required people to wear clunky glasses, and if you're asking them to do that, you'd better have a great payoff for making people wear hardware on their face. This is especially true for viewers who would have to put them on over their existing frames. But in a majority of cases, there was no payoff. Poor 3D effects created a further deficit for the viewer by darkening the picture. Virtual reality can get away with the bulky headset because it creates a completely new experience - something that's a giant leap from watching a screen. On your flat panel TV, 3D isn’t bringing anything new. The basic framework of 3D perception on a 2D canvas has been around since 15th century painters first created perspective. At best, 3D is a fun feature once in awhile, but it brings nothing new to the storytelling medium of film.

Possibly one of the biggest contributors to the demise of 3D was the simultaneous rise of streaming. While studios and consumer electronics manufacturers were hoping to keep you buying 3D Blu-ray discs, consumers were turning Netflix into a distribution revolution that seriously changed the TV game. Netflix didn’t need to add 3D, and the few content providers that dabbled in it - including ESPN and DirecTV - dropped it in short order.

It's safe to say most consumers quickly saw 3D TV as a gimmick. But if you’re one of the few who love the 3D format so much that we’d have to pull your copy of Gravity on Blu-ray from your cold dead hands… there is hope. A change.org petition wants to get LG to revive 3D for its 2018 OLED TV. It never hurts to dream - especially in 3D.

Good luck, and visit Change.org to see the petition to LG to bring back 3DTV.

Confused about what AV Gear to buy or how to set it up? Join our Exclusive Audioholics E-Book Membership Program!

 

About the author:

Wayde is a tech-writer and content marketing consultant in Canada s tech hub Waterloo, Ontario and Editorialist for Audioholics.com. He's a big hockey fan as you'd expect from a Canadian. Wayde is also US Army veteran, but his favorite title is just "Dad".

View full profile

Recent Forum Posts:

Cos posts on November 26, 2017 21:49
Auditor55, post: 1222092, member: 76893
When I say niche I mean a small segment of the market or targeted to a select demographic. 4K sets are no longer niche, they are now mass market items. However, 4K TV is still niche, not a lot of 4K content. Those that have content usually own a few dozen or more Ultra Blu Ray disc. Ultra Blu Ray disc are still niche. That is why I previously stated that most 4K TV's will be used by the masses as gloried upscalers. Also, it is my belief that optical disc is one its way out. I don't believe that Ultra Blu Ray will revive a dying optical disc market. So the future of 4K TV(movies) is reliant upon streaming. I know there's Netflix, Roku, Vudu, however their 4K offers are minuscule at this time. There is a possibility that Cable companies might start providing 4K content, thereby advancing 4K TV into the mainstream, however that possibility is greatly problematic.

I was reading a post by gentlemen on another forum who offered his insights on the 4K streaming and cable companies ability to provide 4K content, he made some great points. Here's some of what he had to say.

" Streaming cannot support widespread 4k adoption in the US. Yes, it can for the moment because there aren't a lot of 4k displays being sold. However, as the price of 4k displays drop, and they will, they will begin to replace 1080p displays on the shelves. Just like 1080p gradually replaced 720p units over time. Once 4k displays start heading off of Walmart shelves, which they will, there is going to be a large demand for 4k content. Streaming will not provide this. As it is now, cable sends a highly compressed 720p stream because of the bandwidth restrictions they have. Most of the cable companies infrastructure is copper, not fiber. Cable companies will not be able to support 4k content on their current infrastructure even if they try to compress the signal. To many elephants trying to go through the proverbial garden hose. OK, no problem we can just use Netflix or any other streaming flavor. Once again, we are back to a copper infrastructure because most home ISP connections are provided by the same cable companies. Once ISP/cable companies see their bandwidth being crippled by 4k streaming, they will cap it. Comcast has already gone this route. With caps, you are in overage territory after a couple of movies. Before everyone jumps my premise, I am a senior network architect who worked at one of the largest carriers in the US and globally for that matter. It is a reality that the current infrastructure in the US cannot handle widespread adoption of 4k media with those users expecting media to be delivered across copper paths. Europe is better poised for this because they have a lot more fiber in the ground. Customers with Google fiber, FIOS, and U verse are fine. However, those services are a minuscule subset of the total broadband subscribers. Dish network and DirectTV may be the answer for streaming 4k. The irony is that 4k may actually drive people back to physical media"

I agree that infrastructure is always going to be a problem, but one that is being addressed and will definitely take time.

- Don't argue Ultra Blu-Ray is small, as well as traditional Blu-ray for that matter, streaming is taking over
- Again you draw extremes with minuscule content on Amazon, Vudu, Roku, Hulu, Google Play, Apple 4k, and gaming, I argue that the content is not as minuscule as you make it out to be, but definitely not main stream.

Netflix - All of it's new, multi award winning content is in 4k HDR
Amazon - All of it's new content is in 4K HDR
VUDU - Even Disney now has embraced the 4K Medium and as a Company who has 9 of the top 10 movies in America, that is a big deal

Mainstream, definitely not there yet, for a lot of the reasons the poster pointed out in 2016
Minuscule? - definitely not, with 4k Gaming, Streaming, and Major Movie studios I think its safe to say it has moved past minuscule and as more 4K TVs sell the market for 4K content will continue to grow.

I joke with my buddy, Apple who does not invest in technology it doesn't see value with, remember no MacBook ever had the option for a Blu-Ray disc, has even joined the front with its new 4K Apple TV.
Auditor55 posts on November 26, 2017 18:29
Cos, post: 1221954, member: 14477
Everyone has an upgrade path from a Toyota Corolla to a Lexus (those that own Toyotas), however just because you have a path doesn't mean you can walk or should walk it.

/Agree, but I will say that a Lexus handles better, looks better, has or may have additional safety and technology features that drivers might find useful, so all things being equal, I would rather have a Lexus. As 4k TVs have come down in price significantly to where 1080p was just a year ago and given the visual benefits of HDR, etc) Price is becoming less of an issue.

My point is that the car analogy is a poor one.


The only thing obvious to me is that your definition of niche and mine are completely different. It doesn't always have to be at one extreme or another, but some people only see black and white. I never claimed it was full mainstream, but to pigeonhole it to one extreme doesn't make sense to me.

When I say niche I mean a small segment of the market or targeted to a select demographic. 4K sets are no longer niche, they are now mass market items. However, 4K TV is still niche, not a lot of 4K content. Those that have content usually own a few dozen or more Ultra Blu Ray disc. Ultra Blu Ray disc are still niche. That is why I previously stated that most 4K TV's will be used by the masses as gloried upscalers. Also, it is my belief that optical disc is one its way out. I don't believe that Ultra Blu Ray will revive a dying optical disc market. So the future of 4K TV(movies) is reliant upon streaming. I know there's Netflix, Roku, Vudu, however their 4K offers are minuscule at this time. There is a possibility that Cable companies might start providing 4K content, thereby advancing 4K TV into the mainstream, however that possibility is greatly problematic.

I was reading a post by gentlemen on another forum who offered his insights on the 4K streaming and cable companies ability to provide 4K content, he made some great points. Here's some of what he had to say.

" Streaming cannot support widespread 4k adoption in the US. Yes, it can for the moment because there aren't a lot of 4k displays being sold. However, as the price of 4k displays drop, and they will, they will begin to replace 1080p displays on the shelves. Just like 1080p gradually replaced 720p units over time. Once 4k displays start heading off of Walmart shelves, which they will, there is going to be a large demand for 4k content. Streaming will not provide this. As it is now, cable sends a highly compressed 720p stream because of the bandwidth restrictions they have. Most of the cable companies infrastructure is copper, not fiber. Cable companies will not be able to support 4k content on their current infrastructure even if they try to compress the signal. To many elephants trying to go through the proverbial garden hose. OK, no problem we can just use Netflix or any other streaming flavor. Once again, we are back to a copper infrastructure because most home ISP connections are provided by the same cable companies. Once ISP/cable companies see their bandwidth being crippled by 4k streaming, they will cap it. Comcast has already gone this route. With caps, you are in overage territory after a couple of movies. Before everyone jumps my premise, I am a senior network architect who worked at one of the largest carriers in the US and globally for that matter. It is a reality that the current infrastructure in the US cannot handle widespread adoption of 4k media with those users expecting media to be delivered across copper paths. Europe is better poised for this because they have a lot more fiber in the ground. Customers with Google fiber, FIOS, and U verse are fine. However, those services are a minuscule subset of the total broadband subscribers. Dish network and DirectTV may be the answer for streaming 4k. The irony is that 4k may actually drive people back to physical media"
Cos posts on November 25, 2017 20:00
Auditor55, post: 1221929, member: 76893
When the NFL, MLB, NBA, Fox, ABC, ESPN, NBC, HBO etc. start broadcasting in 4K, then and only then, will 4K be more than niche. Also, with net neutrality, for get about quality streaming.

Everyone has an upgrade path from a Toyota Corolla to a Lexus (those that own Toyotas), however just because you have a path doesn't mean you can walk or should walk it.

Also, it not about the hardware, its the software. Comcast can have a 4K box coming, however does that mean I will able to watch the Superbowl or the NBA finals in 4K?

Everyone has an upgrade path from a Toyota Corolla to a Lexus (those that own Toyotas), however just because you have a path doesn't mean you can walk or should walk it.

/Agree, but I will say that a Lexus handles better, looks better, has or may have additional safety and technology features that drivers might find useful, so all things being equal, I would rather have a Lexus. As 4k TVs have come down in price significantly to where 1080p was just a year ago and given the visual benefits of HDR, etc) Price is becoming less of an issue.

My point is that the car analogy is a poor one.


The only thing obvious to me is that your definition of niche and mine are completely different. It doesn't always have to be at one extreme or another, but some people only see black and white. I never claimed it was full mainstream, but to pigeonhole it to one extreme doesn't make sense to me.
Auditor55 posts on November 25, 2017 14:54
Cos, post: 1217819, member: 14477
Niche for your, but as I stated above, it is gaining support more and more.

https://www.directv.com/technology/4k

I don't know, direct TV is kinda small though LOL. Yes no broadcast TV, and limited options in 4k, but in a world where broadcast TV is dying in favor of streaming services that do 4k, I would say it is a little more than niche.
- Netflix user base is growing, at least according to their latest financial results and is putting on some quality programs I watch
  • Stranger Things
  • Daredevil
  • Ozarks
etc. Hulu is having some success in this arena as well as amazon. You get the idea, IMO it is going beyond Niche.

It's not full mainstream, but for a niche product, everyone has an upgrade path to it

http://4k.com/news/meet-comcasts-new-x1-4k-uhd-hdr-dvr-box-its-finally-coming-19842/

If Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Vudu, all support it, it does reach a rather large audience

When the NFL, MLB, NBA, Fox, ABC, ESPN, NBC, HBO etc. start broadcasting in 4K, then and only then, will 4K be more than niche. Also, with net neutrality, for get about quality streaming.

Everyone has an upgrade path from a Toyota Corolla to a Lexus (those that own Toyotas), however just because you have a path doesn't mean you can walk or should walk it.

Also, it not about the hardware, its the software. Comcast can have a 4K box coming, however does that mean I will able to watch the Superbowl or the NBA finals in 4K?
Cos posts on October 28, 2017 22:01
Auditor55, post: 1217785, member: 76893
No cable or broadcast TV 4K content means that 4K is still niche. Most so-called 4K TV's will be pretty much glorified upscalers for the foreseeable future.

Niche for your, but as I stated above, it is gaining support more and more.

https://www.directv.com/technology/4k

I don't know, direct TV is kinda small though LOL. Yes no broadcast TV, and limited options in 4k, but in a world where broadcast TV is dying in favor of streaming services that do 4k, I would say it is a little more than niche.
- Netflix user base is growing, at least according to their latest financial results and is putting on some quality programs I watch
  • Stranger Things
  • Daredevil
  • Ozarks
etc. Hulu is having some success in this arena as well as amazon. You get the idea, IMO it is going beyond Niche.

It's not full mainstream, but for a niche product, everyone has an upgrade path to it

http://4k.com/news/meet-comcasts-new-x1-4k-uhd-hdr-dvr-box-its-finally-coming-19842/

If Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Vudu, all support it, it does reach a rather large audience
Post Reply