That 3D-TV Rush? Don’t Hold Your Breath

This weekend I’m going to see “Toy Story 3” in 3-D with my family, which I’m pretty excited about, but the idea that 3-D content is going to become widespread within the next few years thanks to Hollywood and sporting events isn’t likely, according to Paul Sagan, the CEO of Akamai (s akam). I asked Sagan at our Structure conference yesterday if Akamai was building up its content delivery network in anticipation of an onslaught of fatter 3-D video traffic — and the response was no.

He said that the technology was still too early even for early adopters as most people aren’t ready to upgrade their televisions after buying HDTV sets within the last five years, adding that he first viewed HDTV in Japan in 1992, about a decade before HD finally starting hitting mainstream adoption. Since technology shifts take time, and 3-D has a “chicken and an egg” problem of needing compelling content before consumers invest in the hardware while hardware manufacturers need widespread adoption in order to lower the prices of equipment, he isn’t worried about meeting the bandwidth needs of 3D-TV yet.

He said that his content delivery network, which serves some 3,000 media companies, is focused instead on the terabytes of HD and standard definition media that it handles today, as well as improving and delivering content optimized for the myriad mobile phones out there. So, despite the World Cup showing in 3-D, Virgin Media saying earlier this month that it plans a 3D-TV channel and more movies like “Toy Story 3” hitting theaters, we appear to still be a ways out from a massive 3-D bump in network traffic.

Related GigaOM Pro Research (sub req’d):