Editor ©RapidTVNews | 20-07-2011

Sony has taken up the gauntlet thrown down by arch rival Samsung with its own free 3D streaming video-on-demand (VOD) service but technical limits may hinder mass rollout.

Sony’s '3D Experience' offering is designed to enable the streaming of promotional video clips and trial content and will be initially exclusive to Sony 3D Bravia televisions, via Bravia Internet Video platform for customers in Canada, France, Germany, the US and the UK.

Given that lack of compelling content has been a traditional gating factor for 3D TVs, it is somewhat of a surprise that Sony is going to market with around 30 titles. However it adds that more content will be added soon including highlights from this Wimbledon tennis.

In an in-depth assessment of the move, leading media analyst IHS Screen Digest cautions that consumer electronics companies need to take into account the technological limitations, such as bandwidth, which may cap 3D content quality.

The analyst believes that Sony and Samsung have an advantage in the 3D market compared to rivals—notably LG, Panasonic and Toshiba—in that they have a streaming proposition.

However the analyst noises that mass consumer availability of high bandwidth is crucial for such services to be adopted and adds that at present few countries meet on average Sony’s recommended minimum bandwidth of 10 Mbps. In particular it observes that the average in the US is 6.9 Mbps and in the UK only 6.2 Mbps.

The bottom line, the analyst warns is that lower capacity for transmission will limit the reach of any bandwidth intensive service such as 3D across the total population of homes, restricting 3D video resolution to frame compatible formats, such as side-by-side or top-bottom, rather than BD's full 1080p frame for each eye.

Ultimately IHS Screen Digest cautions that consumer interest in 3D cannot be taken for granted and is likely to be influenced by the current lack of 3D content and low quality delivery. It advises production companies, TV operators and broadcasters to quickly fill in this content gap to support the current hardware market and sustain existing consumer interest.