3D Still Not Driving TV Sales

Sales of 3D TVs are on the rise in the U.S. as first quarter volumes grew nearly 74 percent in units and 64 percent in revenue over last year, according to market research company The NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service. 3D TVs accounted for 11 percent of all flat panel TV sales in Q1, nearly double that of last year, and 22 percent of all 40+ inch sets sold were 3D.

While sales continue to grow, the majority of consumers still feel 3D is not a crucial television feature. According to The NPD Group’s most recent 3D 360 Monitor survey (March 2012), just 14 percent of consumers interested in, or expecting to purchase, a flat-panel television in the next 6 months, say 3D is a “must have” feature while 68 percent say it’s a “nice feature to have they may use in the future.”

“3D has been a success for the television market from a sales perspective,” said Ben Arnold, director of industry analysis for The NPD Group. “However, few consumers cite watching content in 3D as a reason for purchasing a TV, indicating that other factors such as screen size, resolution and Internet connectivity hold more importance.”

As an experiential technology, displays and demos at retail are an important component to raising awareness and adoption of 3D. In person, many consumers who try 3D rate it positively with nearly three quarters (70 percent) saying they were “impressed” or “amazed” by an in-store 3D demo.

Wearing 3D glasses, the cost of sets and accessories, and access to content remain barriers to adoption. While 3D sets have become more affordable since entering the market (average prices in April 2010 were 33 percent lower compared to April 2010) glasses-free 3D TVs have yet to enter the market, likely deterring the 80 percent of consumers who consider 3D glasses a drawback to owning the technology. Content availability as an adoption inhibitor is waning, though the absence of a nationwide 3D network or channel makes it difficult for consumers to plan 3D viewing. Among consumers not interested in 3D TV, 14 percent say content availability is a purchase inhibitor, down from 21 percent in May 2011.