Study: 3D TV Viewers Need to Take a Break

Research showed that consumers preferred true 3D compared with televisions that have the 2D-to-3D conversion feature.

Viewers are comfortable with 3D and enjoy it more than programming in HD, according to research from ESPN Research + Analytics.

A key part of the study — which was conducted at the Disney Media & Advertising Lab in Austin and revealed Thursday — involves the potential for adverse viewing effects. Said Duane Varan, executive director and chief research officer of the lab: “We found no statistically significant adverse effects for stereopsis over a five-day period.”

He added that headaches and eyestrain did appear in the research, though “it appeared that there is an acclimation effect whereby participants adjust to 3D over time under normal use.”

Breaks help reduce view discomfort, he added, noting that in the testing, breaks were roughly 15 minutes in length. “We think breaks are a good thing for 3D viewing.”

The research also found that consumers preferred true 3D, compared with 2D content as viewed on new TVs that offer 2D-to-3D conversion as a feature. That’s notable considering the controversy surrounding converted material.

ESPN3D launched in June with a goal of 100 3D telecasts in the first year. Its 38th is a college football game featuring Boise State on Saturday.

“By the end of this month, we will have produced a dozen college basketball games and more college football as we head to the Christmas,” said Bryan Burns, vp strategic business planning.

He also responded to questions about the channel’s second year. “We have some affiliate deals that go farther than (year one),” he asserted. “We don’t have any stop signs.”

His comments come a week after ESPN senior director of technology Jonathan Pannaman told a conference in London that the broadcaster would review its 3D activity in the next few months.

“We committed to a full year of trial and we’re preparing for a second year, but whether this is something we repeat or cut is something that at this point we have very little indication on,” Pannaman said. “We’re still not sure what makes sense for 3DTV, and we don’t yet see a proven ROI.”

Said Pannaman: “Regardless of whether we continue as an event-based network or go to a 24/7 network or switch to VOD, we definitely have to make production efficiencies to make it work.”

Additional findings from the study conclude that 3D commercials are more effective than 2D. It found that recognition jumped from 83% for 2D to 94% for 3D. Ad liking jumped from 67% in 2D to 84% in 3D.

The research was conducted during the 2010 World Cup and encompassed more than 1,000 testing sessions and 2,700 lab hours.