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BBC ditches 3D TV – farewell 3D, you won’t be missed

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The BBC has announced that it’s to suspend all of its 3D programming, with the swan song being a Doctor Who special this Christmas. The question is; does anyone out there really care? I know I don’t.

Being publically funded, the BBC has a responsibility to focus on appealing to the widest audience of viewers and listeners, which isn’t something that goes hand in hand with emerging technology and a small number of early adopters.

It’s fair to say that the BBC gave 3D a decent shot though, with 3D TV’s now easily obtainable (Argos will sell you one for £250) and appearing in many homes, there are enough of them out there. It just seems that people aren’t donning their glasses and tuning in.

2012 was host to the BBC’s ‘Summer of 3D’ – with Wimbledon, the Olympics and Last Night of the Proms getting the 3D treatment. These were all events that attracted massive viewing figures – but only in 2D. It’s no wonder the BBC has decided to knock it on the head for now.

What went wrong with 3D TV?

It’s been apparent for a while that 3D hasn’t been doing so well. When the first commercial sets were being launched in 2010, there was a wealth of marketing and hype surrounding this new technology. I spent a lot of 2010 being handed 3D glasses by enthusiastic PR people in dimly lit rooms – everything else seemed secondary and old hat.

Fast forward a few years, and 3D is mentioned a lot further down the spec sheet, just above the number of HDMI ports.

So where did it all go wrong? We know that people own the TV’s, so why weren’t they watching? Was it that people didn’t want to wear bulky glasses? Was it the lack of content? Did 3D not fit in with our new way of watching TV while checking Facebook or Ebay on our smartphones and tablets? More than likely, it was a perfect storm of all these things…

TV is a passive viewing experience

Watching TV, for the most part, is a passive activity. Having to wear special equipment, and concentrate wholly on what you’re watching doesn’t fit in with how we’ve watched TV for the last 70 years. 3D is also very event driven. Reserved mostly for films and sport, this served to limit its appeal even more. Nobody was ever going to sit down to watch Eastenders in 3D.

Today the focus is Smart TV. Tomorrow it’ll be higher than high-definition resolution 4K TV. The industry moves quickly when there’s something new to sell, and manufacturers want you to feel like your current TV is old news, and that you should really ‘upgrade’.

There was a time when I theorised that 3D would eventually become just another feature of all TV’s, but with the BBC removing support, I now believe we’ll see other content providers following suit, leading to manufacturers removing the feature altogether. Would anyone care? I doubt it.

Do you watch 3D programming on your TV at home?

I don't even have a 3D-capable TV (77%, 818 Votes)

No - I have a 3D TV, but I don't watch 3D programmes at home (16%, 171 Votes)

Yes - I have a 3D TV, and I watch 3D programmes at home (7%, 76 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,065

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So, only 7% of more than 1,000 voters are actually watching 3D programmes at home

Doughnut says:
30 November 2013

and what is the % of 3D broadcast programmes to non-3D broadcast programmes…?
It might put your leading comment in perspective….come on guys this is statistical rubbish….you cant watch if next to nothing is broadcast.

Doughnut says:
30 November 2013

Ah…but then is it the chicken or the egg…

You have created a survey question to give the answer you want ie to support your opinion.

It would have been good to ask if decent/good 3D coverage/progamming was provided, would you watch in 3D.

Not many people complain about the pink elephant walking down their high street so does that mean we can fill high streets with pink elephants or erm that pink there aren’t any pink elephants.

The 3D experiment was poorly handled and frequently screwed up. The BBC couldnt even get Dr Who right and go out on a success…so I guess there is no choice…mmm…ho hum


I would rather see money spent on producing good quality interesting programmes rather than 3D TV. A lot of what is broadcast at present is probably primarily intended to produce good audience ratings.


I thought Dr WHO was really good in 3D (at least the original broadcast and simultaneous cinema distribution) and it made the BBC a stack of money.


As part of a 3D case study David Wigram, stereo3D consultant on Dr Who stated:

“What does the future hold? Nobody really knows, but over the short term expect to see the top-grossing films of each year to remain being 3D, but the majority of releases to be 2D. Expect further innovations along the line of HFR as the theatrical industry invests in keeping the cinema a high-value experience, to compete with TV, tablets and phones as a way of consuming media. But of course experience has shown many times that where cinema leads, TV follows.”