3DTV Not a High Priority for BBC

The BBC appeared to kick 3DTV into the long grass this week, with Danielle Nagler, Head of HD at the UK public broadcaster, giving a long list of reasons why this will not be a focus for the corporation any time soon. She talked about the need to focus on technology that will become universally available, said early adopters of 3D television sets will not be the BBC’s mainstream UK audience and highlighted the cost of producing content in both 2D and 3D.

Speaking at the 3DTV World Forum in London, Nagler made it quite clear that the BBC has no ambitions to be first in 3DTV. However, the broadcaster hopes to provide live 3D coverage from the 2012 Olympics including the opening ceremony, depending on the interest from other broadcast partners.

She ruled out any possibility of launching a 3DTV channel for several years, explaining: “At the moment there is virtually no money to spend on 3DTV.” The broadcaster is involved in some 3D experiments but Nagler told the audience that the BBC will not replicate the 3D work that other broadcasters are doing and would aim to complement them.

One of her main themes was that 3DTV is a “bit of a distraction from HDTV”. She said: “It feels to us like there is a lot of work still to do in terms of normalizing HD and driving quality across the board and explaining HDTV to consumers and getting them to invest in HD and connected television sets.

“In the next couple of years we are looking to move from probably around 30-35 per cent of our content being made and delivered in HD to close to 100% of our content being delivered in HD. While the cost of HD has fallen substantially compared to five years ago, there is still a residual cost compared to SD. Adding the cost of 3D, for an audience that is not really there at the moment and is still likely to be small in five years time, is not the best use of limited license fee money,” she declared.

It does not appear the BBC is entirely convinced by the whole concept of 3D television, anyway. “It is not clear what makes good 3D content and it is certainly not clear what makes good television,” Nagler stated. "It is interesting and stunning but I’m not sure what I have seen feels like it has the potential to become part of the grammar of the television programmes we make.”

By John Moulding, Videonet