Editorial: And TV Shall Lead Them - Broadcasting & Cable

Editorial: And TV Shall Lead Them

With the massively successful Avatar, the film business took the early lead in 3D hype. But now it is time for the television industry to grab the reins and assume a leadership position over its movie brethren.
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If you have spent any time in the entertainment world in Hollywood, you know that the television business often gets treated like the poor little stepchild of the film industry. Movies get the lion’s share of attention in the media and at awards time. And movie people often drive gaudier cars, have bigger over-leveraged mansions, and—in many people’s true measure of Hollywood status—tend to have bigger egos and looser ties with reality.

Ironically, though, in the near future an aged technology has a chance to turn this aged hierarchy on its head, at least within a single aspect of content delivery. With the massively successful Avatar, the film business took the early lead in 3D hype. But now it is time for the television industry to grab the reins and, for once, assume a leadership position over its movie brethren. And then we’ll all see if 3D actually has legs.

Coming out of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the three-dimensional hype was palpable. You would have thought every network would be broadcasting in 3D to tens of millions of homes by the end of the year the way the media covered the craze. Since then, cooler heads have for the most part prevailed, as industry followers realize there are numerous challenges before 3D ever takes off, if it does. But that rightfully hasn’t stopped the 3D train from plowing forward, from a recent hockey game in 3D to ESPN finally nailing its carriage deal with DirecTV after the two sides started off far apart on money.

And this week, we’ll all have the chance to peer into the 3D future a bit more. While Eldrick Woods made sure it’s hardly the biggest story out of Augusta, Ga., a 3D feed will be emanating from The Masters for those with the ability to see it, including fans who can get to Sony Style stores within the Comcast footprint.

While sporting events like this summer’s MLB All-Star Game and the World Cup will continue to drive the 3D buzz, we are hoping that television as a whole can push the envelope. We are uncertain of 3D’s true future—some of us are infinitely more skeptical than others—but the buzz and momentum are unavoidable.

And we will do our part to advance the cause when B&C Technology Editor Glen Dickson leads a panel discussion of ESPN’s 3D efforts at NAB on April 12, and again on May 25 when we hold our own 3D summit in New York, right before a meaningful volume of 3D sets begins to arrive in stores.

Avatar was great, don’t get us wrong, but 3D could be a massive opportunity for the television industry, and one in which it could lead. And who knows, if it takes off, maybe TV execs will start getting the best tables in Beverly Hills.

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