By the Numbers: A Round-Up of Recent Market Research on Stereoscopic 3D TV and Film

By Stella Plumbridge, 3Droundabout

You may subscribe to the idea that ‘there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics’, but I confess I am addicted to the numbers, and if you are too, then you can find more market research coverage in the 3Droundabout news archive. Here’s a summery of some recent reports:

3D TV Sales

Below is a summary of sales performance data for 3D TV sets. All of the research companies agree that sales of 3D TVs will increase rapidly over the next few years, which is inevitable given that the major TV manufacturers plan to include 3D as standard on all top of the range products, and increasingly further down their ranges. There is also consensus on LED LCD remaining the dominant flat panel technology, and some predictions on when passive glasses 3DTVs will overtake sales of active glasses sets.

Timeline Penetration of 3DTV sales
Quarter 4 2010 2 million units (global) [DisplaySearch]
10% TV revenues (global) [DisplaySearch]
1.1 million units (EMEA) [Meko]
2011 7 million units (Europe) [In-Stat]
23.4 million units (global) [IHS iSuppli]
11% of flat panel market (global) [IHS iSuppli]
2012 54.2 million units (global) [IHS iSuppli]
22% of flat panel market (global) [IHS iSuppli]
2014 100 million units (global) [DisplaySearch]
50% TV revenues (global) [DisplaySearch]
34% homes (US) [Strategy Analytics]
42% homes (Europe) [Strategy Analytics]
100 million units (global) [IHS iSuppli]
2015 300 million homes (global) [In-Stat]
32% units (Asia/Pacific) [In-Stat]
159.2 million units (global) [IHS iSuppli]
52% of flat panel market (global) [IHS iSuppli]

DisplaySearch – Quarterly Advanced Global TV Shipment and Forecast Report & Quarterly Large Area TFT LCD Shipment Report – Advanced LED+3D

For quarter 4 2010, 3D accounted for 10% of global TV revenues and over 2 million units. By 2014 it will rise to more than 50% of revenues and 100 million units worldwide, and it will become a standard feature of large screen TVs of all technology types. 3D LCD TV panel shipments increased to 1.9 million units in the first quarter of 2011, jumping 104% quarter on quarter. This growth represents a 3.9% penetration among all LCD TV panels shipped. Panel manufacturers are aggressively working to increase 3D TV panel penetration in targeting 16.8% penetration in quarter 4 2011, and 12.3% for 2011. In quarter 1 2011, shutter glass type 3D TV panel shipments reached more than 1 million units, while pattern retarder type 3D TV panels reached approximately 880,000 units shipped.

Strategy Analytics – Global 3D-Enabled Device Sales Forecast

By 2014 34% of US homes and 42% of European homes will own a 3D-ready TV. 3D capability will become commonplace across a wide range of consumer electronics devices. Global sales of 3D-enabled devices, including 3D-ready TVs, 3D TV set-top boxes, 3D Blu-ray players, 3D media players, 3D phones and 3D fixed and portable games consoles will grow 89% in 2011 to reach 95 million units. Western Europe, Japan and the US will be the world’s three largest markets accounting for 93% of 3D device sales in 2011, and by 2014 the forecast is for a global installed base of nearly 900 million 3D-capable devices.

In-Stat – 3D-Enabled TV Sets on the Rise Worldwide
The 3D TV market is set to grow by almost 500% in 2011. Worldwide households with 3D TV sets will exceed 300 million in 2015; just over 7 million 3D TV units will be shipped in Europe in 2011; by 2015 Asia/Pacific will have the largest share of 3D TV unit shipments at 32%.

Meko – DisplayCast Advanced TV service
A total of 1.1 million 3D TV sets were sold into the whole EMEA region in quarter 4 2010, which is about 30% of worldwide 3D shipments. Lack of content and weak demonstrations kept sales figures low, resulting in only 1.8% of total Western European flat panel TV set shipments being S3D TV sets.

IHS iSuppli – Market Watch

Worldwide shipments of 3D TVs will increase 463% to reach 23.4 million units in 2011. Another year of triple-digit growth is expected in 2012, when shipments will rise by 132% to 54.2 million units. Global shipments will exceed the 100 million unit mark by 2014 and then hit 159.2 million in 2015. By 2015, passive 3-D shipments will surpass those of active 3D; LCD is the dominant technology accounting for 83% of 3D TVs sold in 2011. The 3D TV share of the global flat-panel market will be 11% in 2011 and 22% in 2012, and 52% by 2015. The most popular 3-D TV size during 2011 will be 40- to 41-inch range numbering about 3.3 million units; followed by the 55- to 59-inch range with shipments of 2.9 million units; and the 45- to 46-inch range with 2.7 million units.

3D TV Consumers

Beyond the technologies and specifications, and yet another format battle in the guise of active shutter versus passive glasses, what do consumers think?

The Digital Entertainment Group – 3DTV Owners – A Closer Look at The New World of Immersive Home Entertainment
This study looks at the experiences of nearly 3100 3DTV owners in the US. Consumers reported a positive entertainment experience, minimal price premiums, and enthusiasm about the future of 3D content. 88% rated the 3D picture quality positively; 85% would prefer to watch half, most, or all of their programmes in 3D; 83% stated that it takes either no time or just a few minutes to adjust to wearing 3D glasses; and more than 70% use a Blu-ray 3D or 3D-capable player.

LG Electronics UK
The survey of 2000 people, conducted by LG in the UK, showed that over half of respondents said that the next TV they buy will be 3D capable; 37% said that the London Olympics 2012 will encourage them to buy a 3D TV and 25% said that the Euro 2012 will tempt them into buying a 3D TV.

Best Buy UK
The survey of 2000 people conducted on behalf of Best Buy by 72 Point in the UK found around 80% of people had experienced 3D at the cinema, but less than one in five had experienced this on a 3D TV. Almost 70% had enjoyed their experience of 3D; 21.45% felt under pressure to keep up to date with 3D; 24.3% will buy a TV within the next year; and 48% think that 3D costs too much.

3D Production

A lack of content is often blamed for holding back the development of the 3D market, particularly broadcast to the home. These two reports highlight a difference of opinion between broadcast management and the production community:

Ovum – The State of 3D (Strategic Focus)
Senior IT and business executives in the broadcast industry throughout Europe, North America and Asia/Pacific rated production of 3D content and/or launch of 3D channels as the lowest priority for strategic investment. 53% said 3D content production was not an important business consideration; no broadcasters in Europe or North America viewed 3D as a critical investment area. The high cost of investment in infrastructure and personnel is a major factor in the reluctance of broadcasters to invest in 3D production.

Media Services
The 2011 survey of film, television, commercial and corporate media production professionals was conducted to identify overall trends and issues that influence crew booking decisions. The survey shows that 3D is becoming a predominant mode of production, with nearly half of respondents indicating their business will focus on 3D film and television production in the next five years.

3D Cinema

And what of 3D cinema? Against a backdrop of continuing economic pressures and some disappointing releases, it is no wonder that cinema goers are beginning to question the value of higher priced 3D tickets. That said the number of 3D-equipped screens continues to increase across Europe.

European Audiovisual Observatory
Based on provisional data, EU gross box office (GBO) reached €6.45 billion in 2010 driven by an increase in average ticket prices while admissions decreased by 1.6% to 966 million tickets sold. A surge in 3D screens caused market shares for 3D films to increase to 16% of total GBO in France, 17% in Germany, 24% in the UK and 20% in Russia. Avatar topped the 2010 European charts, selling an estimated 43 million tickets; the EU charts were dominated by US 3D blockbusters which accounted for 10 out of the top 20 films; German 3D horror action film Resident Evil: Afterlife sold 5.3 million tickets.

MEDIA Salles
The number of European screens equipped with digital projection technology totalled 10,346 by end 2010, representing a 120.9% rise compared to the previous year. The penetration of screens equipped with 3D technology as a proportion of the overall number of digital screens has continued to increase (except in Spain), rising from 74% in 2009 to 81.5% in 2010. In Iceland, Croatia, Lithuania, Serbia and Slovenia 3D screens represent 100% of total digital screens, while in may other countries it is over 90%: Russia (99.6%), Turkey (98.5%), Hungary (98.2%), Sweden (96.8%), Poland (95.7%), Denmark (95.6%), Switzerland (94%), Bulgaria (93%), Italy (92.3%), Finland (92%), the Netherlands (91.7%), Greece (91.5%), the Czech Republic (91%) and Latvia (90.9%), with UK (77.9%) and France (74.5%).

iHS Screen Digest – Digital and 3D cinema market trends in Europe Quarter 1 2011
Just under 2000 new digital screens were added across Europe in the first quarter 2011, bringing the total active digital screen base to 12,106, up by 19.6% from the 10,159 screens active at end quarter 4 2010. 3D featured in over two thirds of net deployments, but 3D’s penetration of the total European digital screen market continued to fall for the third consecutive quarter. France has exceeded 2000 digital screens and had the highest level of both net digital and 3D installations in quarter 1 2011; over one third of total screens in the UK are now 3D; Germany has exceeded 1000 3D screens; and Spain is the most underserved for both digital and 3D screens out of Europe’s top five markets.


In general, there is consensus on the fact that sales of 3D TV sets are growing – it is expected that market penetration will be in the region of 50% by 2015. Consumer experience seems to be positive, but broadcast executives appear to be lacking the enthusiasm of the production and creative community. The outcome could be good for pioneers like BSkyB, or as many of these TV sets will also have Internet connections, consmers could be lured by online sources of content, as well as packaged media and games.

Even if you think statistics are worse than damned lies, I hope you find at least some of this useful. It is just a sample of the many research reports that have been published over the last couple of months and If I’ve omitted a source that you think important, send the details to or use the comments box below.

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