This article is bought to you in assciation with 3D specialists Presteigne Charter.
LG offer an app called 3D World which features a small selection of free and paid programming on the LG Smart TV platform. Today, LG announced they are revitalising 3D World with new content, availability in more countries and plans to collaborate with 3D producers to grow its library.
In some countries, you can also access the Yazabam 3D application on LG Smart TVs. Yazabam offers up to 40 3D HD dramas, documentaries and movies on a pay-per-view basis. Prices range from $1.99 to $9.99 and if the consumer wants to view the content online, they are required to download the TriDef 3 media player which costs $50 (TriDef software is only required to play 3D movies that are purchased from Yabazam.com for playback on PC devices. the Yabazam 3D TV app is free, so the viewer only needs to pay the rental amount and the movie will then be streamed directly to their 3D TV). Today, DDD; the creators of Yazabam and TriDef, reported more than 12 million units of TriDef 3D technology have shipped worldwide in key 3D consumer markets, as well as a turnover increase of 176%. the Yabazam 3D TV app currently only offers free 3D trailers, but in may the plan is to launch a version that allows full 3D films to be rented on LG and Samsung platforms.
Samsung Smart TVs feature a growing range of 3D content on their SmartHub platform via an application called Samsung Explore 3D. Dreamworks Animation and other studios offering 3D trailers and music videos. Usage figures are difficult to obtain but back in July last year, Samsung reported over one million views had been racked up in 100 days although, let us not forget, these were free. Samsung did announce they would venture into paid content late last year but since then, nothing has changed.
In July 2011, Sony launched Experience 3D – a free 3D video-on-demand service enabling streaming of promotional video clips, music videos, documentaries and highlights of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. since its launch, Sony have reported over 10 million views have been notched up, extending the service to its Blu-ray players and over 60 countries. Sony also uses the platform to screen trailers of its own 3D films such as Men In Black 3 and the Amazing Spiderman. Sony offer some paid options for 3D content available via Video Unlimited - Sony's own retail rental store both on PS3 and on BRAVIA 3D TVs. Category Development Manager, Home Entertainment for Sony UK Edward Uzzell recently told 3D Focus "We tend to focus on making demo content available free of charge, offering valuable promotional space to partners and showcasing their work to consumers who are always keen to sample". Titles currently available on the UK PlayStation Video Store are Harry Potter 7B 3D, saw the Final Chapter 3D, Alpha and Omega 3D and Tekken: Blood Vengeance 3D
Spanning across many platforms is Netflix. when Netflix launched on the Nintendo 3DS, users only had the option of watching 2D films but back in January, CEO Reed Hastings said Netflix was working on “something for its 3D-capable subscribers”.
The film streaming giant recently launched in the UK on the main games consoles, online and connected TVs but the question is; how much extra are consumers be willing pay for 3D programmes and films? the monthly charge for Netflix in the UK is £6 per month but there are extra cost implications to stream 3D content due to the increased bandwidth requirements and higher license fees. there was a recent rumour that Netflix would be offering 3D content via the PlayStation 3 after “Simply G” over at Gamerexchange, stumbled across what he called a glitch while booting up Netflix on his PS3. He discovered a previously unseen icon showing an option for “3D”. there has been no official word from Netflix about this discovery.
Nvidia’s 3D Vision Liveis an online service that offers a range of branded 3D channels from providers such as Passmore Lab and Cinemusica. the free service consists mainly of test footage, trailers, interviews and game walkthroughs; designed to promote Nvidia 3D products. recently, the company unlocked the capability on 3D Vision Live for anyone to upload their own 3D videos—previously you had to have your own channel and/or have your videos screened and approved by NVIDIA to upload them.
3DeeCentrallaunched as an online only service but has expanded onto iPhone, connected TVs and Android devices. Canada based SpatialView, the company behind it, operates on a hardware and content business model, through the sales of their 3DeeScreen ($130) and 3DeeSlide ($30 which converts regular 2D laptops and iphones to 3D, and through sales of download-to-own content via the apps and online portal which ranges from free up to $15.
Orange offer a 3D VOD channel in France and, since buying a 49% share in DailyMotion, have extended the content to the popular video sharing site for anaglyph viewing, all for free.
HULU also offer a limited selection of 3D content including 3D Sun but mainly 3D shorts, clips and film trailers and BT Vision in the UK have been offering 3D films titles since 2010.
Montreal based company Sensio will launch a 3D VOD app called 3DGO!in the spring for North American consumers. the company recently announced a series of live 3D events is to be broadcast from Paris in a joint venture between Montreal’s Sensio Technologies and French music production specialist S é quence SDP. These concerts will be made available on the app 3DGO! which will feature a library of content from films to documentaries and will be free to download to connected TVs monetised through a PPV model.
Sky 3D will be uploading selected parts of their Eurosport Olympic coverage on the Sky Anytime platform and the BBC will be making parts of their new 3D shows (as part of their two year 3D trial) available for BBC iPlayer.
VOD platforms such as Comcast and Virgin Media offer 3D content. Virgin Media attach a hefty premium for their 3D films – for example, currently on their service, they offer the 2D version of Adventures of Tin Tin for £3.99 for a 48 hour period with the 3D version costing £2.50 extra for the same duration.
Who is looking to enter the online space? HIGH TV 3D recently told 3D Focus there were interested in setting up an online content venture if they could attract a sponsor. Glasses free 3D specialists MasterImage 3D hinted they were planning to launch a service several months ago.
Aside from the important “how to make money?” question, there are technical challenges to deliver 3D streaming services via IP in terms of bandwidth. People expect to watch any form of content instantly in a living room environment; rather than waiting to download a programme/film. Streaming is the most appealing proposition for consumers but, taking the UK as an example, the speed of Internet connections varies considerably from home to home.
A side-by-side 3D film takes up the same space as a HD file, but even viewing a 2D HD stream today is often interrupted, even on fast connections depending on the time of day. Frame sequential 3D – a Full HD image to each eye, will be even more demanding on the network. It will be a big ask to expect people to pay for a service that frequently features a spinning buffer circle! over time, bandwidth will be less of an issue as the likes of Virgin Media and BT Infinity continue to increase their speeds beyond 50 + mbps.
When there is a crtical mass of 3D TVs (expected by 2013 according to 3net) and the broadband infrastructure is robust enough to handle the data required for full HD 3D streaming, the real opportunities will begin as well as further questions surrounding pricing, marketing and quality.
How content is consumed could almost become irrelevant as existing broadcast structures support subscription, sponsorship and PPV models. for example, Sky customers can only access content on the Sky Anytime push service if they have subscribed to the relevant package. Sky 3D content is possibly more often Sky plus recorded than watched on the linear channel and Sky Box office already allows for people to pay-per-view.
So where should be producers looking to monetise their 3D content?
Torsten Hoffman, founder of 3D Content Hub, a specialised 3D distribution company, told 3D Focus "even though there are 30 3D channels worldwide, there are only 10 that are acquiring content and maybe 3 that have significant budgets. the way producers should go for 3D is VOD, especially with larger established platforms with large audiences."
He was cautious about the revenue share models that a dozen 3D technology start ups are proposing to content owners such as he ones mentioned above. "Income generation with these platforms will be very limited (startups with zero subscribers). I advise to go after 2D revenues because that is where still 95 percent of the viewership and budgets are".
ITV, who were rumoured to be launching 3D services last year, will soon introduce a micro payment system on their ITV Player, opening up the potential for trialing premium 3D content online in the future. but will people pay extra for 3D? If so, how much extra? Will they prefer to pay per view? Or will they be more willing to pay a subscription package as the recent 3D Focus survey suggests? How will viewers be alerted to when a 3D alternative/version of a programme is available? the BBC even struggle to get viewers to switch to the HD version of their flagship channel and SKY reshuffled their EPG to prioritise the HD channels.
So what about other models for generating revenue with 3D outside broadcast? Color Codeoffer a proprietary encoding service. Charging 300 Euros per minute, the company generate revenue through conversion (providing a stereo pair is provided) to a format that can be seen in 3D through Color Code glasses. the result is also highly viewable in 2D too with a very slight colour haze. It was a process used for TV comedy Chuck and the coveted commercial break during the American SuperBowl in 2009.
The company 3Dtuber are hoping to monetise 3D in a different way. Claiming to be the world’s first HD 3D streaming platform, the 3D cloud-based content delivery system costs a monthly fee of between $500 to $3000 to be integrated into other websites.
3D stock footage company Stereobankare pooling content that ended up on the cutting room floor but could still have a purpose in other productions. They charge a license fee to production companies needing to fill gaps in their programming and will split the revenue with the contributors up to 50/50. Other stock companies like Discovery Access and NHK Video Bank license out 3D stock footage too.
It is worth noting that online, tablets and phones have the potential to present 3Dcontent in a more compelling way compared to television – glasses free 3D. there are a growing number of options…
such as Toshiba’s glasses free 3D laptop - Qosmio F755-3D, the upcoming Wikipad and the Nintendo 3DS, which will be offering owners the first premium video content on Thursday – a cartoon clip called the 3D Machine, for 90 pence.
These platforms have the potential to persuade people to pay for additional supporting 3D content or even entire shows. Companies like Triaxeshave launched a system that cleverly converts stereo content into autostereo content meaning existing 3D content could be monetised via glasses free 3D display outlets.
The 2D world proves there are challenges for any online content platform. SeeSaw closed down after struggling to gain enough paying customers. the business model of Joost proved to be flawed. the challenges for 3D will be even greater.
So where will 3D fit in to our connected world? It is worth looking at Storm Surfers. the 3D series will air across Europe, America and the UK in June and it appears to tick all the boxes for taking a 360 degree approach. In addition to games, an eMagazine and live shows, the producers are creating 10 X 2 minute 3D webisodes.
Could this be the best strategy for introducing 3D content to the masses? As extra ancillary content in a similar way to ITV 2’s supporting shows like the Xtra Factor? Short 3D webisodes could be produced to complement existing assets, encouraging loyalty and increasing time on a programme’s supporting website. One thing is for sure, IP delivery of 3D content creates new challenges as well as opportunities.
What do you think? DISCUSS…