3D TV stumbles again as BBC presses pause

The BBC has indefinitely suspended its 3D TV efforts. The British broadcaster said on Friday that audiences found the format “hassly” and simply weren’t taking it up.
This is quite a serious blow for 3D TV, particularly after U.S. sports broadcaster ESPN scrapped its own efforts less than a month ago. Both outfits cited a lack of enthusiasm among the viewing public and, given the emphasis on 4K rather than 3D at this year’s CES, it looks as if the set industry had already picked up on this.
It’s not as if the BBC didn’t give it a good shot. Last year’s Olympics coverage was broadcast in 3D — half of the 1.5 million U.K. households with capable sets watched that in 3D, but far fewer tuned into the rest of the BBC’s 3D content.
BBC 3D chief Kim Shillinglaw made quite an insightful comment about the scene, noting that people might be keener to watch 3D content in the cinema than at home. “I think when people watch TV they concentrate in a different way,” she said. “When people go to the cinema they go and are used to doing one thing — I think that’s one of the reasons that take up of 3D TV has been disappointing.”
Personally, I’m minded to go with Cracked on this one – “There was never a time in human history when 3D didn’t feel like getting your eyes punched by a swarm of hateful invisible pixies” – but at the same time I did feel there was value in watching The Hobbit in three dimensions. At the cinema, of course.
Shillinglaw did note that the BBC isn’t giving up entirely on 3D TV, and suggested that the recession might be having an impact on new set purchases. “I think the BBC will be having a wait-and-see,” she said. “I am not sure our job is to call the whole 3D race.”
The BBC doesn’t need to call it – its decision says it all, really.