Consumers surveyed prefer the format

Consumer awareness of 3D home technology has grown steadily this year and the rising knowledge is stoking interest in purchase of 3D devices, according to findings of new research.

Interpret research veep Michael (Yuanzhe) Cai, presenting the results of his firm’s latest study at Variety’s 3D Entertainment Summit, also said 3D films are attracting larger auds among all age groups.

“It was a surprise because we kept hearing more and more negative comments in the industry about the future of 3D, and so we didn’t expect to see (3D’s) positive perception improved across the board among consumers,” Cai later told Daily Variety.

The 20-minute online survey of 1,458 respondents ages 12-65 was conducted by Interpret from Aug. 31 to Sept. 12.

Among moviegoers, the most noticeable jump was among respondents in the 35-44 age group. The number of theatrical 3D movies seen by this group rose from an average of 1.81 movies in the first quarter of the year to 2.5 films by Q3. Meanwhile, 61% of survey respondents said they preferred 3D movies over their 2D counterparts, a 4% rise from Interpret’s Q1 findings.

In addition, the survey showed that 35% of those who plan to buy a TV in the next 12 months are interested in buying a 3D-capable set, with 32% more amenable to the concept. More than half of those who planned to buy a set were in the 35-54 age range and may be seeking out entertainment options for their families.

Cai noted that targeting this audience is especially important for the industry because this demographic is seeking to replace or upgrade primary HDTVs.

Although several problems have hampered more wholesale adoption of 3D in the home, Cai said none of these challenges are insurmountable.

The price premium over conventional HDTV is about 30% to 40%, which is problematic given that the average consumer price point for conventional HDTV is $900.

“3D TVs usually cost more than $2,000 even without Blu-ray [players] and glasses, but the price curves are already more reasonable than it was during the transition to HDTV, when a plasma HDTV cost $10,000 or more back in 2000,” Cai said.

Moreover, Cai expects to see increased bundling of 3D technologies for the holidays, as manufacturers offer all-in-one packages made up of 3D TVs, 3D Blu-ray players and a few pairs of 3D glasses without significantly increasing the price of the TV alone.

“Samsung and Panasonic have been aggressive for a while, but now Sony, Sharp (and other companies) are ramping up,” Cai said. “I won’t say a price war is imminent, but it’s heating up, which is a good thing for consumers.”

Finally, Cai addressed arguably the biggest issue around 3D home adoption: the glasses. Consumers agree that they are too expensive and too much of a hassle. Only 28% of those surveyed understand that active shutter glasses are not interchangeable between different systems.

Cai said that active-shutter glasses need to drop to about a $20 to $30 price point to be adopted. However, he did not seem especially concerned about complaints of having to wear glasses whenever flipping on a TV. “They’re like four-wheel drive on a truck. [Viewers] can choose to wear them for sports and some movies, but they don’t have to use them all the time,” Cai said.

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