3D TV network readying for prime time

3D TV networks are around the corner, with Discovery, Sony, and IMAX rolling out their starting lineup. But are there enough 3D TV sets in American homes to take advantage of the new shows?

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    3D TV channels are revving to go. But are there enough 3D TV sets to watch them?
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Killer jellyfish, ghost towns, and a cartoon weathergirl will be among the stars of a new 3D TV network under development by Discovery Communications Inc, Sony Corp, and Imax Corp, the companies said.

In providing the first look at the 3D TV network's schedule, the companies unveiled 10 series and specials, largely centered on natural history, exploration and children's programing. The network is due to launch in 2011.

Discovery, whose brands include Discovery Channel, TLC, and Animal Planet, announced the partnership with Imax and Sony early last year, and since then has been bringing aboard management and building a roster of shows. In the past, a lack of 3D programing has been one of the big barriers to 3D TV in the home.

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Among the shows announced on Monday are the hour-long special "Attack of the Giant Jellyfish;" "Abandoned Planet," a series that looks at deserted cities; "Jewels of the World," a series that explores spots such as the Grand Canyon and Machu Picchu; "Into the Deep 3D," an undersea Imax special; and "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs," an animated feature about an inventor and a weathergirl based on the children's book.

But the new 3D TV network will face an uphill battle: American consumers like the immersive feeling of watch 3D TV, but are put off by having to wear special glasses because they restrict multi-tasking at home, according to a US report on attitudes to the next big thing in television.

High costs and lack of 3D content are also among factors causing Americans to hesitate in buying the latest generation of 3D television sets, according to the report by the Nielsen Company and the Cable and Telecommunications Association for Marketing.

But while costs are expected to come down and content grow over time, unease about wearing 3D glasses could prove a bigger long-term barrier to mass adoption of 3D TV sets, the report said.

3D TV set sales are poised to go mainstream in the next 12 months with manufacturers like Samsung, Sony, Panasonic and LG all rolling out sets. Sports broadcasters like ESPN launched its first 3D channel during this year's soccer World Cup.

But some 89 percent of those questioned for the "Focusing on the 3DTV Experience" report felt the special glasses would constrain other activities they usually do while watching TV.

More than half said the glasses were a "hassle" and 57 percent said they were "not likely" to buy a 3D TV set for that reason, the survey found.

The 425 randomly selected participants had watched 30 minutes of 3D television programing in a home viewing environment.

Although 57 percent of viewers agreed that watching 3D television made them feel they were part of the action, 77 percent said they thought the technology was best suited for special events like sports or movies, rather than everyday viewing.

The Nielsen Company's Frank Stagliano said the research revealed a "wait and see" attitude by Americans.

"In fact, purchase interest for a 3DTV set among those planning to buy a new TV in the next 12 months decreased after seeing a demonstration of the technology, experiencing the glasses and learning more about product costs," Stagliano said.

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