Much ado over 3D?

11 Nov,2011

By Akash Raha

Even as High Definition (HD) television channels are entering the Indian market, blogs and social networks are already abuzz with talk of 3D channels coming soon, and how that will revolutionize the entire TV-viewing experience. MxMIndia took a closer look at these claims, to find out whether such a time is actually anywhere close at hand.

According to Ms Anamika Mehta, COO, Lodestar UM, “India is already an underleveraged and fragmented market and such innovations will definitely add to the monetary burden.  Indian consumers are yet to fully embrace HD, and 3D in that context is still years away. While some manufacturers have launched 3D products, we still do not have ample content. 3D content would mean significant investment in content cost and advertisers and viewers alike are unlikely to pay in the short run for the experience. Secondly, perhaps barring live sports there isn’t any genre that could see demand for 3D broadcasting. The other genre could be movies in theatres for an experience… Lastly, you need high quality content which lends to 3D viewing and strapped for budgets, very few production houses will bite.”

But all said and done, the success of Mr James Cameron’s film Avatar in Indian theatres is enough proof that when you offer visually appealing content in 3D, people will flock to see it. Even so, such a number still remains way short of expectations for a market such as India to actually implement a 3D plan. If media analysts are to be believed, making 3D content for television is a very difficult job and the cost is too high to bear. Even today, many media houses use age-old technology for programming and non-35 mm cameras.

Interestingly, in the US a $14-billion, eight-year deal by ESPN with the National Football League (NFL) includes international rights and distribution of 3D content. This is despite the earlier reports that they might give up on 3D technology altogether. Several other broadcasting plans, internationally, for 3D broadcast of live baseball and basketball games are also on the anvil. MxMIndia’s efforts to reach ESPN-Star in India for their take on the issue failed to elicit any response.

Mr Dinesh Vyas, Business Head, MEC said that any talks of 3D technology coming into India in the current scheme of things is certainly a gimmick. He said, “HD and 3D televisions are already available in the market, but people are still apprehensive about it, especially, 3D. People get headaches when they see 3D content for extended periods. Such a technology is not going to take off any time soon in India. The Indian market is not very receptive to technology and it takes a long time to appropriate it… Cost of technology too is very high – and currently no advertiser will be interested in it, which implies that even media owners will have to drop any major 3D plan. However, there will always be small news here and there about 3D which might get everyone excited.”

So is it a good idea for affluent Indians and the upcoming middle class to splash out on 3D television – which is touted as the technology of tomorrow? The answer is a plain simple – no. Or at least, not yet… After all, what use is a large sprawling 3D television in your living room without any 3D content to support it with? That is excluding a handful of 3D movie DVDs and Blu-Ray discs.

However, not all media planners are pessimistic towards the technology and some still see hope, however dim, for it. Mr Premjeet Sodhi, President, The Collaborative, Lintas Media Group, said, “High value, premium or luxury goods and services are not new to the India market and like any other such goods and services the 3D TV sector is also amenable to adoption and success. However, I don’t think I am qualified to comment on which consumer technology will be successfully adopted. Whether 3D TV will be adopted and when and whether it will be a viable business is something for the custodians of these businesses to dwell upon and work towards. But, as and when the penetration of the technology reaches a critical mass, I am sure the media and advertising services will equip themselves to support the technology.”

There may well be a time in future when 3D channels and television will be in vogue, but apparently that time is not near. If analysts are to be believed, it will be a long while before demand meets technological advancements. However, India still remains an unpredictable market. It is the same country which discarded pager technology and yet usurped the mobile. To write off 3D technology’s viability in India could be presumptuous.

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