Media

3D TV’s festering corpse is dead and buried

By Alex Wood 25 January 2017
Summary

Final nail in the coffin.

Remember 3D TV? We thought it was long gone.

It turns out TV makers were still hanging onto the dream that 3D would take off – until now.

The final nail in the coffin is here. Sony and LG, the final two remaining 3D TV manufacturers, just pulled the plug, according to a report from CNET.

Starting this year, there will be no more 3D TVs launched by any of the major brands around the world, relegating the technology to the history books.

Why didn’t 3D TV work?

3D never solved a problem – it merely created more. It was an expensive gimmick, with content that failed to live up to the hype.

In cinemas, 3D peaked as early as 2014, according to the BFI, after viewers got tired of high prices, headaches and awkward 3D goggles. 

And even as far back as 2012, broadcasters knew that the punters weren’t interested in 3D content. The home 3D goggles were awkward, expensive (up to £70 per pair) and clunky to use.

The BBC admitted the London Olympics in 3D was a flop, with less than half of households with a 3D TV bothering to try it. And a year later, even the Queen couldn’t save the technology, when her Christmas message in 3D failed to get audiences excited.

Shortly after, the BBC dropped the technology altogether.

Lessons for VR?

3D’s downfall has fired a warning shot across the bow for virtual reality, the new technology of the moment.

It’s easy to imagine history repeating, but we’re cautiously more confident about VR, as lessons appear to have been learned.

In private, production companies have revealed to us their “determination” to not repeat the mistakes of 3D TV – by making original content, specifically for VR, rather than repurposing traditional TV programmes.

The rollout of VR has also been completely different. You aren’t expected to own a headset in your home.

Instead, VR is being parachuted into galleries, museums and even hospitals. Most will experience the technology outside of their homes first, VR’s rise will be steadier, more organic. If you decide you want one in your home, you’ll really want one. You won’t be upsold.

VR may take longer, but it’ll be worth waiting for.

So long 3D TV, you won’t be missed.

Read more: I was buried alive in a real-life coffin for a disturbing VR experience