Discovery’s 3net Slow To Draw Viewers


Media Dali y News
Aug 5, 2011

More cold water was splashed Thursday on the potential for any mass — even mild — consumer adoption of 3D TV anytime soon. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, whose company launched a 24/7 network in the format several months ago, offered a decidedly bearish tone when speaking about prospective adoption rates.

“3D candidly has been slower than we expected,” he said on an earnings call.

Discovery, with partners Sony and IMAX, debuted 3net in the U.S. in February, but only DirecTV has agreed to offer it so far.

Also, AT&T U-verse opted not to continue carrying ESPN 3D this week, a sign that consumer interest could be slow. Sony, a set manufacturer, is a sponsor for the network.

Speaking perhaps in a global context, Zaslav said: “There are a number of markets where distributors feel like they need to hedge. Even though the consumer demand is not significant yet, from a brand perspective, it’s important for them to have 3D or be a leader in 3D. So the fact that we have it is important. The market demand has not developed yet.”

Zaslav added that 3D adoption is “going to be driven” by how quickly the 3D-capable sets are purchased. The Consumer Electronics Association estimates 3% of U.S. homes have it now. The pace could be quickened if sets that don’t require the burdensome glasses to view content become widely available.

Still, Zaslav said “the good news” for Discovery is with the February launch of 3net, it has a beachhead, leading to a growing library of content and opportunity for learning. A first-mover approach worked well with HD, he said, as Discovery moved quickly to launch seven HD channels.

Internationally, 3D offers some opportunities either as a full channel or one-off productions, Zaslav says.