Despite the best efforts of Sky, Virgin Media and lately the BBC, new research is predicting that 3DTV will struggle to ignite the mainstream UK TV market.

The research from Informa Telecoms & Media is a crushing blow from an industry that seems to be collapsing under its weight of self-generated expectation. The launch of the BBC’s free to air 3D service covering the Wimbledon tournament attracted huge headlines in the UK in the mainstream national media et it appears unlikely that headlines will be translated into sales.

Informa predicts that even though in 2010 almost 90% of homes with 3D-ready sets were “active” users, fewer than half of the 11 million 3DTV-ready homes in the UK in 2016 will likely be active and regular users of 3DTV content. The analyst attributes the hugely high rates in 2010 to early-adopters being significantly more likely to sign up for 3D content services, coupled with operators making content available for free to build some scale.

et with 3D capabilities by 2016, It suggests that as 3D becomes a standard technology embedded into more and more sets, it will reach consumers who are not particularly interested in the technology and so the “active” percentage will fall.

Moreover even if 3D has long-term mass market penetration, driven by such embedding in the majority of sets, Informa anticipates that use of the 3D capability will be limited in homes, often restricted to major events where a 3D viewing experience will be sought for its novelty value.

Fundamentally the analyst rejects the theory held by some, and hoped by many in the TV industry, that 3D represents the obvious next evolutionary step for TV. Explained Adam Thomas, Senior Analyst and author of the Global 3DTV Forecasts report: “3DTV has the backing of the major UK broadcasters like Sky and Virgin, and most recently the BBC announced its plans to show the Wimbledon final in 3D for the first time.

"However, despite this, public reaction has been mixed – due to both a lack of content and a simple failure of the public to engage with what is, essentially, a new type of viewing experience… 3DTV is less of an enhancement and rather more a new type of viewing experience – one that many people will enjoy, but some way from becoming ubiquitous.”