3D Starts Popping Up in U.S. Homes

5:58 PM PST 10/18/2012 by Thomas K. Arnold , John Latchem

With the help of box office hits like "The Avengers" and "Prometheus," 3D Blu-rays are starting to make a dent in the home video market.

While it isn’t making the headlines it was two years ago, 3D for the home is quietly catching on in U.S. households, Nielsen and Home Media Magazine research shows. Recent theatrical hits are generating significant chunks of their total unit sales from 3D.

The week ended Oct. 14, 20th Century Fox’s Prometheus, in its first week in stores, generated 25% of its unit sales from the 3D version (which, it should be noted, came with an extra bonus disc to encourage sales), according to Nielsen VideoScan. Since 76% of Prometheus sales were of a Blu-ray configuration, that means 33% of Prometheus Blu-ray shoppers opted for the 3D edition -- a collector’s set that included the film on Blu-ray 3D, regular Blu-ray, DVD, and digital copy (iTunes and UltraViolet).

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Home Media Magazine research suggests the collector’s edition of Prometheus accounted for 26% of the title’s total consumer spend.

Two weeks earlier, Disney’s The Avengers debut week included 23% of its unit sales from the 3D version, which included a digital copy the standard Blu-ray edition did not offer. Subsequent 3D tallies dropped to 19% of total unit sales in its second week and 14% in its third week. However, compared to Blu-ray sales of the title, 3D has held up, accounting for 32% of Avengers BD sales in week one, 33% in week two and 28% in week three.

Some older titles have generated similar traction. A year after their disc debuts, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger, generated 3D tallies of 15% and 13% of total unit sales the week ended Oct. 14.

And the 3D edition of Titanic achieved a 3D unit share of 29% a month after its Sept. 10 debut. Its first week, Titanic had a 37% 3D unit share, accounting for 45% of all Blu-ray sales of the title. For three of the five weeks the Titanic Blu-ray has been on the charts, more than 44% of Blu-ray sales were of the 3D edition.

“People love 3D,” said veteran industry observer Tom Adams, senior principal analyst with U.S. Media. “It’s not surprising to me. Household penetration has gotten fairly substantial, fairly quickly, and of course if you’ve got one, you’re going to want to purchase content for it.”

Indeed, data from NPD DisplaySearch shows a steady climb in 3D-ready TV sales. In the fourth quarter of this year, 25.7% of global LCD TV panel shipments were 3D, up from just 14.2% in the fourth quarter of 2011. Shipments have steadily gone up all year, with 3D accounting for 15.2% of global LCD TV panel shipments in the first quarter of this year, 21% in the second quarter, and 23.5% in the third quarter.

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