BBC to drop two-year 3D experiment after Doctor Who anniversary episode

3D broadcasting will end in November this year

After a two-year ‘trial’ the BBC have announced the end of their 3D broadcasting. The BBC’s head of 3D Kim Shillinglaw announced the closure whilst speaking to the Radio Times.

“I have never seen a very big appetite for 3D television in the UK,” said Shillinglaw. “Watching 3D is quite a hassly experience in the home. You have got to find your glasses before switching on the TV.”

“I think when people watch TV they concentrate in a different way. When people go to the cinema they go and are used to doing one thing – I think that’s one of the reasons that take up of 3D TV has been disappointing.”

Shillinglaw’s comments are certainly supported by the statistics. Even though an estimated 1.5 million UK households own a 3D enabled TV, the BBC estimated that their 3D coverage of the Olympics Opening ceremony was only seen by half that number of households.

The BBC’s 3D experiment will end with the 3D Doctor Who anniversary episode this November, as well as a natural history programme named ‘Hidden Kingdom’. The latter will feature footage shot from a unique device called the ‘straightscope’ – a snorkel-type system that attaches to a lens to produce extreme close ups replicating a bugs-eye view.

Taking a view across the entire industry shows mixed predictions. Whilst sports network ESPN is shutting down its 3D programming by the end of the year due to “low adoption of 3D to home”, Sky remain bullish about the technology. It claimed that 300,000 of its 500,000 3D TV owners watched the Olympics in 3D.

If Sky can drive demand for the technology then there’s always a chance that the BBC will roll back on their current decision. Shilinglaw certainly didn’t rule out the possibility: "We will see what happens when the recession ends and there may be more take up of sets but I think the BBC will be having a wait and see. It's the right time for a good old pause.”

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