Image: from a 3D wildlife documentary made for WildEarth.TV
The past few markets have seen a steady increase in 3D content that distributors are pitching to buyers. At MIPTV in April, the organisers also published a 3D supplement for the events’ magazine, invited a number of 3D speakers to the conference and installed a special 3D section in the exhibition area.
However, the third dimension has clearly not made a breakthrough yet: so let’s not get overexcited. It is easy to get carried away but all the activity in this field doesn’t mean that the consumer demand is suddenly taking up. In fact, technology adoption follows predictable patterns independent of media attention. I have blogged about the “Hype Cycle of 3D TV” and this model is a good reminder for all of us.
So while I expect more stands with 3D TVs (remember how the adult industry was first to showcase 3D screens?); more distributors with 3D titles in their portfolio; more co-production deals; more press coverage; and more innovative formats…
…again, let’s look beyond the marketing and ask the tough questions. For example, how many titles of a distributor’s total portfolio really are 3D? 5%, or 50%? How many of the titles are converted, instead of native 3D?
Even more important are the buyers so let us ask the right questions: Are the buyers starting to spend real money? So far there are only two or three major buyers of 3D content and effectively these are the only ones that are commissioning large 3D projects. Will this number increase this year?
While 3D titles may get 20% of the PR buzz, I estimate that the 3D market measured in actual US Dollars may only be 2% of the total industry. That’s why I will be most interested to hear about first-time 3D co-pro deals by established large players and/or in new territories.
3D sports events have been the cornerstone of almost every single new 3D offering. We all know the pull effects that Wimbledon, the NBA or the English Premier League can create. Unfortunately these events are very costly to produce (think large production teams, many cameras, live coverage) and lose value almost immediately. So, I will look out for sports related content in 3D with a longer shelf life as well as niche sports that lend itself to great 3D. Red Bull Media is certainly one company to look out for.
There is no denying the fact that 3D fared very well in theatrical releases (taking 45% of total box office over this summer in the US, and 70% in Japan). Now, let’s see whether these titles will also be signed up by the few 3D channels that are currently on air.
Do these 3D channels have a buying monopoly on the major 3D titles and therefore make 3D TV distribution for the studios a lousy business? Or will the studios create a new release window with 3D? (i.e. these 3D titles will be broadcasted on 3net before they go to HBO. If this is the case, we will see much more 3D content soon, in theatres and on TV. There is no doubt that 3D is a blessing for Blu-ray distributors, but will we finally see the first 3D VOD platforms offering favourable terms to content holders this year?
One thing is for sure: There will be many sellers with great titles and even more producers with great 3D ideas looking for money. Let’s hope that this year, 3D dimes turn into 3D Dollars.
Torsten Hoffmann is managing partner at Global Media Consult. He coordinates GMC’s worldwide network across Europe, Middle East, Africa, America and Asia. HE is also director of WildEarth.TV, a 3D channel from South Africa. This post is adapted from an article written for 3DFocus.co.uk about his 3D expectations at MIPCOM 2011.
3D will be a major focus at MIPCOM 2011, including an entire day of panels and 3D showcases October 3. Full programme