back to article UK a 3D TV nation? Not half

Satellite broadcaster Sky said yesterday it now has more than 70,000 subscribers for its 3D TV channel. Now, a week earlier, the chief engineer of Sky owner BSkyB, Chris Johns, revealed that the company estimated that, by the end of 2010, some 140,000 British homes had a 3D TV. Johns said BSkyB had initially expected the …


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  1. Vitani


    Sky launched it's 3D channel in October, let's be conservative and say that was 4 months ago. That's 17,500 subscribers a month, or about 560 people A DAY. If I had 560 people coming to me every day wanting my new, experimental, expensive, content-lacking service I would be jumping for joy and calling it a rousing success!

    Most TV-owning houses don't even have Blu-Ray players yet but I don't see you calling that "Not exactly a soaring success", give 3D a few years to get into the mainstream before you start piling on the hate.

    Disclaimer: I don't have a 3D TV, I don't work for Sky, I do have a Blu-Ray player, and I like pizza.

    1. Oliver 7

      I don't need no steenking title

      "Most TV-owning houses don't even have Blu-Ray players yet but I don't see you calling that "Not exactly a soaring success""

      I will. Blu-Ray players are not exactly a soaring success - voila! 3D will eventually be built into every telly, like HD capability and networking. Doesn't mean people will actually take advantage of it.

      The big problem for me (and around two thirds of folk going by the figures) is that we are simply unwilling to actually pay good money for supposedly 'premium' services. Nothing is going to change in that regard any time soon. HD should be the de facto industry standard by now!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    People just don't have the kit yet

    3D came along just when people were upgrading to full HD sets, many of which were from HD ready sets. There's probably a 3 year lead time before people are prepared to buy another TV, regardless of how amazing the new ones might be.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    colour me cynical

    But i wonder how many of those 70,000 subscribers don't actually have a 3d tv, but were sold it anyway as the latest and greatest must-have service.

    1. A. Lewis

      My thoughts too..

      I also remember a few years back when I was a Sky customer, that when I signed up I was offered amazing deals for the first six months. I wonder how many of these 3D service customers only have it because they were offered it as a temporary freebie?

      1. Gaz Jay
        Thumb Up

        Now you mention it

        I seem to recall that you automatically received Sky 3D if you were had the full Sky World package. I wonder how many of their figures include this total AND don't have 3Dtvs.

  4. Ian K
    Dead Vulture

    At least try to look balanced

    3D TVs are (at present, at least) high end products that have been available for less than a year.

    To claim that the technology's not a success because it "only" has 2% penetration at this point might be a bit premature.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm no tech-head (I actually *STILL* have a CRT telly, and neither Sky nor Virgin!), but to me 70k subscribers in just a few months for such a new service sounds pretty good going to me... :-S

  6. DrXym Silver badge

    Someone should do a tech analysis of Sky 3D

    I think they would find that the picture resolution is either vertically or horizontally cut in half so that the left and right eye image can be broadcast in the same frame. The TV would reconstitute the 3D scaling each half to be either the left or right eye image.

    That's the most likely way 3D is broadcast simply because the tech was retrofitted into Sky HD boxes which have been out way longer than SoCs that would have plucked 3D data out of a MVC stream.

    That also means that it's technically impossible have 3D AND HD on at the same time. The 3D cuts the pixels in half which probably explains why Sky is so fastidiously trying to avoid saying the two in the same sentence lest anyone takes them to the ASA.

    1. Wyrdness

      A brief tech analysis

      For Sky 3D, each eye receives half of the frame, split vertically into two halves of 960x1080 pixels (interlaced). This is because the human eye is far more sensitive to vertical resolution than to horizontal resolution. 960x1080 would still look HD to most viewers eyes and is still more pixels than a 1280x720 HD frame. So, you could argue that it still is HD.

      Disclaimer: I don't have a 3D TV, I don't have a Blu-Ray player, and I like pizza.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It makes sense now...

    ... that you put it in this perspective, I didn't see it from this angle.

  8. dave 81

    Its still a bit early

    How long did the switch over from Black and White to colour take? I know that some of my older relitives still have their old B&W tv in the spare room.

    Its only been recently that HD tellys have come down in price enough for the everyman. But very few people are going to replace a few year old working TV with the HD version.

    And 3d will be the same. Once the price come down enough, people will buy it as a "hardware refresh" but not while their HD one is working.

    1. david bates

      None of which means..

      that people will actually bother to USE the 3D. My telly has a tuner, but Ive not used that bit of it in 3 years.

  9. Fuzz

    hardware refresh

    This isn't going to happen as part of a hardware refresh. Sure going forward more people will end up with TVs capable of displaying 3D content but as long as that content costs extra (sky subscription) and you need to buy and wear stupid glasses, 3D is not going to take off on any big level.

    People put up with 3D in the cinema, mostly because you have no choice, but very few people will choose to wear the glasses in their homes.

  10. batfastad

    Big Sexists.

    BTW those stats exclude any female subscribers

  11. Steve Button Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    3D TV is going to be like Betamax

    I really can't see this taking off. The glasses are really expensive and dorky, and you need a pair for every person watching (of course). If you've got three kids that's a lot of money on top. Especially if the kids sit on them and break a pair. Some people suffer headaches. The quality really is not that good.

    Even when the price comes down to similar to a non-3D TV, I think it will get a larger take up, but still many of those people will never actually use the 3D channels. A little bit like the huge number of people that don't have an HD source, but still have an HD telly (although that WILL gradually change as cheaper BD players or streaming becomes the norm).

    Perhaps some keen gamers might get into it, but that will be a pain when everyone else watching and not playing will just see a fuzzy picture, but can't be bothered to put on a pair of glasses to watch someone else play a game.

    I think 3D cinema is OK, but we've all seen Avatar now and Toy Story and the novelty is kinda wearing off with that even. 3DS is interesting, and I think that WILL really take off.

    Until they invent one that looks as good as HD quality and doesn't need glasses, I'll be giving it a miss. It's early days though, but I predict that by time the SnOasis opens near Ipswich 3D TV will be dead or dying.

  12. deathchurch

    Maybe 3D TV owners don't have Sky

    I have a 3D TV but don't have Sky, got mine for 3D gaming...

  13. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    It's not that the technology's crap...

    It's that the whole concept of stereoscopic TV is crap.

    Oh, wait. I've banged on about this before.


  14. Mage

    The snag is you will get it anyway

    (Man or Woman with so called 3D glasses)

    But eventually ALL TVs will be 3D (stereoscopic) as it costs 40cents

    cost of IR LED sender to sync the glasses

    They will only charge extra for glasses, About €50

    You won't be able to buy a TV without 3D,

    People buying them now getting ripped off €500+ extra for the 40 cent gizmo + Glasses at €80 to €120.

    Of course at the minute the 3D HD is two 960x1080i images side by side in a 1920x1080i frame. That's why it's inferior to HD and works with any 100Hz HDTV with a small bit of software and IR LED to sync glasses.

    1. Absent

      Case in point

      I have a non-3D Samsung TV, but if you access the hidden menus in it you can turn 3D on. The firmware in all Samsung 2010/11 TVs have the 3D code, it's just disabled unless you buy a 3D model.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Uh, shouldn't this be how many people are on sky's top package?

    You can't get Sky 3D without having the Sky World package with the HD bolt on, then it comes for free as far as I recall? Kinda puts a dent in the reporting, no? I for one wouldn't pay almost £70 in order to get access to a 3D channel :s

    1. Gerard Krupa

      Re: Uh, shouldn't this be how many people are on sky's top package?

      That's £70 then you have to pay extra for half of the movies on there because they're PPV and cost £7 each on top of the subscription.

  16. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    You need to wear (expensive) nerdy Glasses?

    I paid $$$$ to get my vision corrected by laser.

    There's no way I'm going to choose to wear specs again, certainly not for todays visual crap-fest.

  17. Robert E A Harvey


    how many of those have a job?

    I'll get me PPE on & get back to work.

  18. gc_uk


    Don't forget, to get Sky 3D, you have to have a 3D TV, Sky HD box AND subscribe to their top tier package. I wonder how many people have a 3D TV, Sky HD box, and would be happy to register for Sky 3D on a PPV basis.

  19. stefan 5

    Give it time.

    People will want 3d A. when it comes down in price and B, when you dont have to wear retarded glasses and C. when there newly purchased DH tv sets start to get old,

    I like most people are waiting for the 3d tech to arrive and get better.

    This should be common sense to anybody.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How did they calculate these figures?

    I just got a 3D TV. I was time for an upgrade from Standard Def to Full-HD. Panasonic were giving such huge discounts and so many freebies the price wasn't much more than the equivalent 2D set so I thought I might as well have 3D just in case it takes off. If I already had Full HD I wouldn't have bought it.

    AC (13:50) is right. You can't buy the Sky 3D channel. It's made from all the 3D content that is available from the premium channels (sports and movies) for now so you have to take the top package with those at £60-odd a month in order to get it for "free."

    I believe it would be technically possible for the software in a Sky HD box to record the HDCP IDs of all the displays it's connected to and send those to Sky when it phones home so it is possible that they might know how many of us with a phone line connected to our receivers have 3D TVs plugged in. I don't have any knowledge as to whether or not the functionality to do such a thing has been implemented.

    I don't watch sport so I feel that I'm doing better to get the couple of Blu-Rays a month I actually want at 1080p rather than taking 1080i side-by-side 3D which is effectively half the resolution in both directions. Full BD 3D is 1080p for each eye so I could argue that it's 4 times the number of pixels per second.

    Rupert Murdoch can kiss my shiny metal *** if he thinks I'm giving him over £60 a month.

  21. MaXimaN
    Thumb Up

    Definitely give it time...

    I have the top tier package and recently enabled Sky 3D. The content they are showing is fantastic - especially for sport where the perception of depth really does make a difference. I'd say that's the main hook for most of the subscribers to Sky 3D, as there very little content beside that. You can literally see all of the content they have within a 48 hour period, and they don't even broadcast 24 huors a day.

    It will pick up, though. HD took a few years to really gather momentum. As a previous poster pointed out, it takes time for people to upgrade their TVs and many people only just upgraded to 2D 1080p sets.

    Price is an important factor too - we've only started seeing sub-£1000 sets in the past nine months or so, so once the price becomes consistently around and below the £1000 mark for a decent spec with bundled pairs of glasses then we'll start to see a higher take-up IF there is content available to justify the purchase.

    Once the amount of content increases I can see Sky farming off the sport onto something like Sky Sports 3D and splitting Movies from entertainment, much as they did with their HD channels.

    Sky are undoubtedly committed to 3D, despite far from promising numbers, much in the same way as they were with HD. It's just going to take a few years for it to build up a decent head of steam.

    1. chr0m4t1c

      Not exactly committed

      "Sky are undoubtedly committed to 3D, despite far from promising numbers, much in the same way as they were with HD. It's just going to take a few years for it to build up a decent head of steam."

      I think you'll find that Sky don't have a choice in the matter, the money that owns Sky is the same money that owns pretty much any content producer with the word "Fox" in the name.

      Sky's role in this is to get consumers to invest in the technology so that the content producers have a large enough market to sell their expensively produced media to - particularly the lucrative retail market.

      3D is a no-brainer next step in the delivery of visual media in much the same way as adding sound and colour were, but the technology to deliver it well still isn't there and the experience for a lot of people is, frankly, rubbish.

      Judging by previous advances, any technology that requires something in the room other than the TV or a box next to it is probably going to be no more than a niche market for geeks and similar. I'm on my third generation of cinema surround sound systems, but no-one I know has even gone as far as hooking up their stereo to get a fuller sound.

  22. Andy Farley

    You're missing the point.

    It's not about 3D telly, it's about 3D gaming. That's where this technology will get its route into the living room.

    Frag out!

  23. ici.chacal

    It's just another...

    ...pointless GIMMICK forced upon consumers in a desperate attempt to sell us more stuff.

    It's bound to die away once the novelty has subsided, like it did in the 80's, unless maybe some clever engineers can make it work without the need for some stupid flimsy glasses...

  24. John Burton


    I would get a 3dtv and sky 3d if I'd not recently bought a new reasonably large hdtv.

    Next time I want a TV it will support 3d. But I can't justify buying a new one and getting rid of my old one just for that. But yeah, some day...

  25. Dick Emery

    FUCK 3D!

    Seriously. The panel technology still sucks right now. I purchased a Panasonic plasma last year on the basis of viewing angles, colour accuracy, motion etc and people telling me that things like image retention were a thing of the past. I avoided LCD because of it's horrible blown whites/crushed blacks, 8 bit panels, clouding, poor motion, input lag, lack of IPS panels and other crap (With LED HDTV's being the most abused term to date - I'm looking at you Samsung - when it's just crappy edglit displays on most sets. You have to pay considerably more if oyu want true local dumming). But even now my Panny suffers from posterisation, phospor lag, motion judder, problems with PAL 50, floating blacks (black goes up and down spontaneously on certain sources) and yes...image retention!

    3D is just another marketing scam and people only buy into it because of the rash of crappy 3D movies which are not even freely available on BluRay (Many titles being tied to exclusivity deals on branded HDTV's).

    Plus you have expensive shutter glasses to content with (Great if you have kids....not), or polarised glasses which cut down on the amount of resolution of the HDTV and cause lowered brightness levels or you having to pump the brightness up each time you want to watch a 3D source.

    Obvious other issues are things like crosstalk.

    What we NEED is better panel technology. OLED, QLED, FED or SED (whichever comes first and is most affordable).

    3D can go to hell.

  26. Lol 1

    3D TV? - Ask my arse!

    I believe Dara O'Briain said it best - if I may paraphrase slightly...

    they tried in the 50s, they tried in the 80s and their trying it now. Once every 30 years, it's like tuberculosis. It flares up once a generation and you have to zap it with some antibiotics.

    Personally I can't envisage ever owning a TV large enough to make 3D worthwhile. I'd want it to be at least 30' (yes, I do mean feet) and a cinema sized room to accomodate it!

  27. Arctic fox

    I will buy a 3D telly the day I hear......

    ......."Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi" and can see Princess Leia from all angles. Until then, don't call me before I call you.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If you were to believe the popular media you would believe that not owning an HDTV put you in a tiny minority of maybe two. You and some old crofter on a Scottish island with no electricity. Likewise they seem to assume we all either have or want a 3D TV. The same is true of the internet. Everybody, according to the media, is "online" and "logs on" (sorry about the media terminology there) every day.

    The problem being, of course, that people in the media automatically assume that everybody else lives the same life as them.

    1. Martin Nelson

      erm statistics

      You might be surprised at the figures.

      The truth is that every UK resident is able to get access to the internet (in one form or other...even if it's at a local library!).

      Furthermore, the reason BT's Fibre Optic project is so crucial is because the amount of internet traffic is on an exponentially growing trend. Between 2000 and 2007 internet traffic tripled.

      We might not make use of the net in as many ways as possible but the truth is that everyone CAN.

      Unlike 3D and HD the internet is not restricted to those with the money for the premium technologies...everyone has access.

      Also unlike 3D and HD that majority of the population DO make use of the technologies.

      The problem is not the media. The problem is, and has been for some time, that the tech market is RESEARCH lead rather than CUSTOMER led. This is the wrong way round and results in millions being wasted on R&D and Marketing.

      Simple really!

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