Five years after launching Europe’s first 3D channel, Sky has scrapped Sky 3D.
Since its launch in 2010, Sky 3D has led the push for 3D content in our living rooms, commissioning shows such as Flying Monsters, hosted by Sir David Attenborough. Now, though, the channel will be removed altogether, with all 3D content to be moved to its VOD platform instead.
“From the latest 3D movie premieres like Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men Days of Future Past and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, to the very best in natural history with documentaries like Natural History Museum Alive, it will all be ready and waiting for our customers to view whenever it suits them,” says Luke Bradley-Jones, Brand Director, TV Products.
The decision arrives as Sky enjoys surging on-demand usage, with downloads through Sky On Demand surpassing 300 million in the first three months of 2015 – up 60 per cent year-on-year.
“The changes to 3D are all part of making our on demand offering a fantastic destination for customers,” says Bradley-Jones. “Other recent enhancements that benefit millions of connected customers include putting on demand content front and centre on the Sky+ TV Guide, adding more of the very best Box Sets such as Prison Break and Game of Thrones, and securing rights to even more shows and sport.”
While Sky positions it as positive development for VOD users, though, 3D has struggled to gain widespread adoption from audiences. In 2013, Kim Shillinglaw, the BBC’s head of 3D, said it would suspend its programming indefinitely after a two-year trial, saying that it was “quite hassly” for viewers and that it had “not taken off”. With Sky – one of 3D TV’s biggest backers – dropping out of the race, the movement is effectively over.
The industry, meanwhile, is already focusing on the next incentive to upgrade: 4K.
Manufacturers Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, LG and Sharp have teamed up with studios 20th Century Fox, Warners Bros and Disney – as well as streaming service Netflix – to form a “UHD Alliance” to encourage the adoption of Ultra High Definition video.
“The alliance is confirmation that 4K is a technology that is going to be around for some time to come. That it is the next logical step up from full HD,” Gartner principal analyst Paul O’Donovan told the Guardian. “Unlike 3D, which is and always has been a gimmick, the industry is saying, ‘Trust us, we are taking the TV industry forward with 4K.’ I think that’s important for consumers to understand.”
VOD services are already backing 4K TV, with Amazon and Netflix both filming all their new original content in the format. Amazon has said it will offer UHD content at no extra charge to Prime embers, while Netflix is charging an additional fee to US subscribers for higher resolution streaming.
Last year, Futuresource Consulting predicted that 4K TV sets would account for 42 per cent of the global TV market by 2018. Samsung, meanwhile, has forecast that UHD TV sales will climb to 3.3 million by 2017.