The AP has an in-depth look at the hurdles facing 3D TV, but here are the important numbers:
60 MILLION: The number of U.S. homes that have access to ESPN 3D, the 3D network with the most original content.
140: The number of original 3D programs ESPN 3D makes in a year. This means that viewers are seeing a lot of repeated programs and rarely anything live as it happens.
38%: The percentage of U.S. TV watchers who, according to a recent survey, rated 3D TV poorly (3 or less on a 1-10 scale); this is double the percentage of people who rated 3D TV 8 or higher in the same survey.
331 MILLION: The total number of TV sets in U.S. households.
6.9 MILLION: The estimated number of 3D TVs in homes. That number is expected to jump to 19.3 million soon, as many new TVs include the technology, but that is still smaller than 6% of all TVs.
115,000: The approximate number of households watching 3D programming at any given time. Neilsen says 3D viewership is so low it can’t properly track viewers’ preferences.
6%: The percentage of the population that can’t enjoy 3D TV either because of eye issues that make the effect imperceptible or because it makes them dizzy.
How Can 3D TV Survive?
As mentioned above, many new TVs come with 3D tech built-in whether customers want it or not. It will still be a few years until 3D is available in enough homes to justify investment in programming.
Video games could make up some of the gap while broadcasters wait for a broader audience. A handful of popular titles have already been released with the option of playing in 3D. These games only require a 3D TV and play on Xbox 360 and PS3.
Additionally, if Netflix or Amazon began to offer a variety of big-ticket titles in 3D, it could both push people toward the technology and give broadcasters the time they need to transition.
But ultimately it will come down to whether or not people want constant 3D on their TV. Watching a shoot-em up movie with exploding robot heads may be cool, but only time will tell if people want to see their local news anchors in three dimensions.