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Very Limited Supply of Consumer 3DTV Content

3D television continues to gain traction in key markets, with nearly 15 million U.S. homes forecast to own a 3DTV set by the end of next year, according to the latest market study by Futuresource Consulting.

3DTV emerged early in 2010 with manufacturers quickly engaging in a battle for market supremacy. The price premium for the 3D feature has already reduced quite sharply and the well known-brands are now incorporating 3D in more and more of their TV and BD model ranges.

The year finished on a positive note for manufacturers, with strong sales during the final quarter. However, 3D content was unable to keep pace with consumer expectations, creating a lack of packaged 3D content at retail.

"Limited retail content availability has placed greater importance on the role of the broadcast segment as a key 3D content source," says Fiona Hoy, Market Analyst at Futuresource Consulting.

Although early broadcast services struggled to provide the breadth and quality of viewing material that this nascent technology requires, many CE manufacturers have now formed partnerships with pay-TV operators to help co-fund and produce original 3D content.

Many of these partnerships will last up to three years, by which time the market will have become more established.

Looking ahead, broadcast TV will continue to play an important role, not only in providing 3D content directly into the home, but also in educating the consumer and driving awareness.

The Sky 3D launch in the UK market made a significant impact on consumer awareness and helped drive adoption -- with 3DTV sales picking up noticeably following the launch of the channel.

In addition, 3D disc title sales are expected to see a significant boost this year, with a strong release slate which includes key franchises Harry Potter and Transformers. Although 3D represented less than 1 percent of total U.S. Blu-ray retail sales during 2010, this is expected to reach nearly 25 percent by 2015.

The need for 3D glasses continues to be a key talking point within the industry, with the high cost and weight of glasses and the premature hype around glasses-free (auto-stereoscopic) 3DTV said to be potential obstacles to market development.

"Futuresource research continues to indicate that auto-stereoscopic technology is still many years away from offering the quality and large screen viewing experience demanded by the consumer and at an affordable price point," says Jim Bottoms, Director and Co-founder at Futuresource Consulting.

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