3D TV is deader than Jimmy Hoffa

Slow news day? CNet announced yesterday that it’s confirmed, Sony and LG will be dropping 3DTVs from their lineups in 2017. That explains, at least, why LG finally stopped showing massive 3D demonstrations in their CES booth this year. They were looking pretty sad last year, anyway.

Samsung, the other major maker of 3D TVs, dropped 3D support some time ago in favor of 4K and other technologies that people have at least some marginal interest in. DIRECTV’s 3D channels disappeared years ago with the exception of their 3D DIRECTV Cinema page, and speaking personally, I lost interest in the format years ago. I don’t even know where my 3D glasses are anymore and that’s fine since my 3D Blu-ray player died last year.

3D TV was a case study in how not to sell a consumer electronics product. When it debuted in 2010-2011, most people had just bought a fairly expensive TV in the last three years in order to go HD and embrace digital broadcasting. The format came in at a time that the economy was tanking and people simply had no interest whatsoever in upgrading their TVs. By the time things began to look up for some folks here in this great country of ours, 3D TV was already dead.

3D TV was such a bust that it actually seems to have derailed other technologies. The failure of ESPN 3D has probably meant that Disney (the parent company of ESPN) stopped plans for a 4K channel. I mean, you’d think 4K would be great for sports, but other than DIRECTV’s excellent coverage there isn’t any to be found. There aren’t any other live 4K channels besides the three that DIRECTV offers, not on any other provider. There is some streaming 4K content around but in order to use it you must have a truly excellent internet connection, and even so the quality pales in comparison to 4K Blu-ray discs.

Even after 3D became so inexpensive that it was built into practically every mid-level TV, it never prospered. People didn’t want to wear special glasses to watch and for some people (myself included) the glasses were really kind of headache-inducing. It was a bad experience all around. There have been some attempts at glasses-free 3D but they just look really weird if you move your head at all… and almost everyone moves at least a little bit while watching TV.

So, we come to another chapter in the long-running saga of “technologies in which I have invested, that go down in flames.” It all started with my Sega Master System and let’s be honest, I’ve done a pretty poor job of picking winners since, considering my warm embrace of everything from Atari computers to the Windows Phone (Surprisingly I did not embrace anything beginning with X, Y, or Z that I know of.) Along the way I’ve chosen APS cameras, DiVX discs, HD-DVD, and the king of all obsolete technologies, the Digital Compact Cassette, a system that was so unloved it was only sold at Radio Shack. Now it’s time to add 3D TV to that list and move on with my life.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 9,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.