BBC Shelves 3D TV Programming
BBC Follows ESPN's Lead as FIFA Reconsiders World Cup Plans
BBC head of 3D Kim Shillinglaw says the Beeb will put 3D program development on hold at the end of 2013, with no plans to resume until 2017.
In an interview with RadioTimes.com, Shillinglaw said the three-year hiatus comes after a two-year pilot program for 3D in which the BBC broadcast shows including last year's Wimbledon finals and the Olympics in stereo 3D. According to RadioTimes.com, only about half of the U.K.'s 3D TV sets tuned in to the opening ceremonies of last summer's Olympics. Interest in other shows was lower, with Christmas broadcasts of other popular programs thought to draw only 1 in 20 3D-enabled viewers.
The final programs to be broadcast in 3D by the BBC will be the upcoming Doctor Who anniversary special in November and the final episodes of nature documentary series Hidden Kingdom. "After that, we will see what happens when the recession ends and there may be more take up of sets," Shillinglaw told the publication. "But I think the BBC will be having a wait and see. It's the right time for a good old pause."
Just as ESPN's decision to shut down ESPN 3D is not quite the death knell for 3D in the U.S., the BBC's decision does not terminate all 3D broadcasting in Great Britain. BSkyB has put a serious push behind 3D programming with its Sky 3D channel that launched in April 2010. Sky 3D recently re-upped on its partnership with Sir David Attenborough through Colossus Productions (a joint venture for 3D programming between Sky 3D and Atlantic Productions) which is producing David Attenborough's Natural History Museum Adventure for air later this year and the two-part Conquest of the Skies for broadcast late in 2014.
But the big news about 3DTV this year has been bad, indicating a contracting market for stereo 3D production. The Associated Press reporting last month that FIFA is even considering abandoning plans to abandon 3D broadcasts of the World Cup in 2014. FIFA Director of Television Niclas Ericson noted that "several broadcasters" have expressed interest in broadcasting Cup games in 3D, but said the costs of providing 3D feeds are being reviewed. "Whether this is temporary and this will come back in a few years in a new way we don't know," said Ericson, perhaps referring to hopes that a new wave of high-quality glasses-free 3D TV technology will give the format a shot in the arm.