BBC – 3D audiences are falling

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3D Creative Summit Banner BBC – 3D audiences are falling


During the FUTURE 3DTV: 4K, Glasses-Free and Beyond! session at yesterday’s 3D Creative Summit event, Andy Quested from the BBC said that the viewing figures for BBC 3D output reduces each time a show is broadcast.

Joined by Chris Johns from Sky, Roland Vlaicu from Dolby and Richard Mills from ONSIGHT, the chief technologist HD & 3D, BBC Technology, casted a shadow over an otherwise optimistic conference at the BFI. 
As part of a two year trial, the BBC has been broadcasting 3D programming across a range of genres including Strictly Come Dancing, Mr Stink and Walking with Dinosaurs.  The trial will end this summer, just days before the 2013 3D broadcast of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, which in itself is the end of a three year trial between Sony and the All England Tennis Lawn Club.
He said that the BBC was very excited when they started the trial but that each time a 3D show was broadcast, the ‘spike’ got lower, despite the growth in potential audiences.
Future of 3D Panel Labelled BBC – 3D audiences are falling
He referred to the London Olympics Opening Ceremony, broadcast in 3D on the BBC HD channel, which reached an impressive 50% of the 3DTV owning audience.  This dropped massively for the daily Olympics highlights package with an average of just 4000 viewers preferring the 3D version.
Last year’s 3D broadcast of the Queen’s speech and the BBC's first 3D comedy drama, Mr Stink only appealed to 10% of the potential audience.
“We start to see that the figures are falling and that is a real worry as a public service broadcaster.  We have to justify the money. Is it a something we should leave to private broadcasters?… I don’t think we will see a 3D channel launch at all on the BBC."
Quested also revealed that independent surveys commissioned by the BBC still point towards the glasses as being the biggest barrier to 3D take-up, accounting for over 50%.  There other two is the cost of the production and the cost of delivering the additional format (across the various devices).
Although he said there are now 1.5 million 3D ready TVs in the UK, Quested suggested that people were not buying them because they wanted 3D, rather because it now a default feature in most modern TVs that is now demoted below HD and connectivity in sales rooms.  Also, many of the sets sold still do not include glasses.
Future 3DTV presentation BBC – 3D audiences are falling
Ending on a more optimistic note, he did say that glasses free 3D TV is making good progress:  "[Glasses free 3D] is the technology that is needed to make it a compelling experience, especially in an era where people constantly multi-task.  When you see A3D it takes a little getting used to but you certainly miss it when it is not there.”
When asked if consumers had the space to accommodate massive Ultra HD TV sets, Quested called upon an interesting piece of research conducted eight years ago by the BBC R&D department that suggested there will be: “Eight years ago there was a whitepaper done by a very esteemed body that suggested the maximum viable screen size in a domestic situation would be 36 inches.  BBC R&D  are trying to bury it very rapidly but it is still online.  I don’t think there is any difference between us in the UK and anywhere else in the rest of the world.  We will buy the biggest telly we can get through our door. .. Our problem as broadcasters will be to supply multiple content for multiple screens in multiple viewing  environments."
The 3D Creative Summit continues today.


  • Thermal

    The big problem is not wanting to watch 3D programmes but rather that it is very difficult to find out when there is any 3D programme on … that is NOT just available via SKY. I would love to watch in 3D but very rarely find out about a programme until it is too late ! Even DVDs are mainly CGI. Produce more programmes and advertise them and watch the audiences grow.

  • Chris

    The BBC are to be commended for their productions on the technical side but their marketing of 3d has been poor. I’ve only seen the broadcasts because I’ve gone to some trouble to find out when they’re on and that’s not been easy. I would have thought that having gone to some trouble to produce top quality broadcasts they would want people to watch them! Or is it that excellent efforts lower down are blocked by tired and unimaginative ‘stick in the muds’ higher up in the organisation?

  • Bill Sumner

    The BBC cannot claim to have really tried with this. They could have shown at least one 3D film each week: this would have got people used to a regular slot. Instead they have bits and pieces once or twice a year. Even the Olympics was only dribs and drabs. And the Queen’s Christmas message was restricted to a mixture of 2D and 3D shots. Do what Sky did when they commissioned Galapagos.

  • Michael McKee

    BBc have done reasonably well but……… Haven’t really widly supported or advertised the 3D product. I think they are paying ‘lip service’ so they can say they tried but no interest. I missed strictly & the film as I didn’t know they were on even when I was
    Looking for them. Could do better and more regular 3d slot would be a true test!

  • derek500

    Andy Quested is only quoting viewing figures for BBC HD and not Sky 3D. The Queen’s Christmas message was promoted a lot on Sky’s channels (it was made by Sky) so I assume most watched it on the non-BARB reported Sky 3D.

    The fact that 3D Olympic transmissions on BBC HD had higher viewing figures than the BBC Three HD simulcasts available to half the country shows how woeful the promotion of that channel is.

    Sky 3D claimed (they don’t use BARB but their own system with a much larger sample) that 350,000 Sky homes (that’s homes not individuals) watched some of the Olympics in 3D.

    Mr Stink 3D was not promoted!! It’s no surprise it didn’t get many viewers. I’m sure many would have watched it, if they had known about it.

  • crashcris

    I am a great fan of 3D TV. And have watched as much of the BBC’s output as I could find, and boy was it hard to find. If you were to read all the comments on the blogs run by Andy Quested and Kim Shillinglaw you would see that the most usual comment was that the 3D programmes were woefully advertised, even at times just before transmission the voice-over would mention the HD transmission but omitted to tell us where the 3D version was to be broadcast. Hence most people switched to the HD channel and got their TVs to do a 2D to 3D conversion.

    I’m not surprised so few watched the daily Olympics 3D round-up shows. They were appalling. They had no narrative, just clips of people winning, all the excitement of each day was drained from the 50 min programmes.

    The Opening and closing ceremonies were visually super spectacular but at the same time completely ruined by the most incessant, inane ramblings of a group of ‘commentators’. I begged the BBC to replay the ceremonies without the disturbances of Colin Jackson et al, this they could have done during the day time when they were playing a ‘test broadcast’ on the HD channel. They never did. It was ‘The Biggest Show on Earth’ and shown only the one time. Even the Bluray of the event the BBC brought out could have been in 3D, but wasn’t. Unbelievable!

    The Last night of the proms was a pointless 3D broadcast as other than sweeping camera angles, there isn’t that much action visually. Glastonbury on the other hand could have been spectacular.

    Strictly worked brilliantly but the Tennis failed big time, not because the 3D was no good but because the 3D cameras were sited lower than the usual 2D cameras, resulting in a view of the tennis court whereby the far side was completely obscured by the net. It simply gave a duff view of the match.

    I missed the film Streetdance not knowing it was on till after the event.

    I honestly accuse the BBC of having done the very least it could in the promotion of 3D TV as I reckon they really don’t wish it to take off due to the development costs. Although they could easily, as suggested by another poster, broadcast a 3D movie once a week. They could utilise the HD Red Button channel they had for the Olympics. They have the ability but not the heart.

    I’m looking forward to the 3D Dr Who as I reckon this will be the last 3D broadcast from the BBC for many years. Thank God I can still watch the Sky 3D channel.