Cable Operators Move Forward on 3D Despite Reservations

Posted by at 10:07 am on July 22, 2010

Competitive pressure from telco TV and satellite video rivals is pushing U.S. cable operators to move forward with deployment of some 3DTV services, despite concerns about the actual size of the market opportunity and questions about which technologies will emerge as the ultimate winners in the 3D sector, according to the latest report from Heavy Reading Cable Industry Insider .

Delivering 3DTV identifies and analyzes the early moves that U.S. cable operators are making in the 3D sector, focusing on the technologies and strategies that MSOs are exploring and using in early-stage delivery of 3D programming. The 20-page report profiles 14 suppliers of 3DTV products that are designed specifically for cable or that may play a role in the future, including companies that exhibited 3DTV products or support at the May 2010 Cable Show in Los Angeles.

“3DTV is gaining a tremendous amount of momentum from the consumer electronics industry, Hollywood film community, and other supporters,” notes Craig Leddy, research analyst with Heavy Reading Cable Industry Insider and author of the report. “Cable has the opportunity to ride this wave and provide a next-generation service to 3D aficionados and gain potential on-demand business, subscription service support, and competitive parity.”

However, 3DTV poses many technical issues for cable that challenge its ability to guarantee a quality video experience for customers, Leddy says. “Until the technology matures, technical standards are adopted, more content is prepared, and the consumer proposition is proven, cable operators have better service options to invest in and deploy than 3DTV,” he continues. “Even though Hollywood and consumer electronics companies will put the pedal to the metal to drive 3D content forward, the installed base of 3DTV sets will take time to grow in order to provide a significant base for individual cable operators.”

Key findings of Cable Operators Weigh Tech Options for Delivering 3DTV

  • Amid the hype over 3DTV, Comcast and other MSOs are beginning to deliver 3DTV programming and on-demand content.
  • Many MSOs are wary of 3DTV’s unproven market potential, the small installed base of 3D-capable TVs, and technical challenges.
  • Cable can deliver 3DTV using legacy equipment, but full-resolution 3D requires new set-top boxes and encoding.
  • DirecTV and telcos may put competitive pressure on cable to launch 3DTV, though at this early stage the competitive first-mover advantage will be minimal.
  • Long-term, 3DTV provides additional rationale for cable to embrace MPEG4 and other next-generation video capabilities.

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