Just a quick note on the ESPN 3D news today and my take on why the channel failed:
1) Marketsize: There aren’t enough 3DTV’s in the market yet. Broadcast, by definition, means that you have to reach a large audience in order to make economic sense. So, unfortunately ESPN was a few years too early. The action for 3D content is in Home Video and VOD as the dealflow of 3DContentHub shows.
2) Sports Rights: the nature of sports rights and sports franchises is such that it is almost impossible to own multi territory rights. Hence ESPN couldn’t sell their 3D assets overseas to the countries where 3D is performing better than in the USA. And they were also prevented to license their content to global customers such as VOD platforms or hardware makers.
3) Shelf Life: I wrote in January 2012 “most sport events lose their entire commercial value after the initial live broadcast.” So, to have a channel with sports events is not necessarily the right “genre” as you have to re-run a lot of content during the day. And re-runs of live sports events isn’t so attractive to viewers.
4) High Costs: Sports events require multiple cameras and in many cases two separate production crews (2D and 3D). This is (too) costly, especially if the addressable market of 3D TVs is still so small.
5) 3D Technology: we also have to see the bigger picture and admit that the current 3D technology is not offering an enjoyable consumer experience and may not indeed be ready for the mainstream yet. 3D has not been as popular with the general public and the industry could potentially be making the same mistakes with 4k again. Here is me tackling the question “Is 3D Dead?”
As I wrote last week and have spoken about on many occasions, it is important to point out that it is not (the current) 3D or 4k what matters; In the future we will have ultra high definition screens and glasses-free 3D. Auto stereoscopic displays is where this is all going. So building 3D skills and 4k capabilities is a wise strategy for broadcasters and producers alike. Let me know your thoughts.