Nearly every week I see a new survey on some aspect of the 3D market. The results are all over the map. Sometimes we try to dig a bit deeper into the data to better understand the methodology and validity of the results. At times, it seems the surveys come to conclusions that exactly match what their sponsors hoped they would reveal, casting suspicion on the survey. While political surveys can be surprisingly accurate, that does not seem to be the case when measuring consumer behavior or attitudes toward CE products.
Two surveys I saw recently highlight the perils. The first was from Spain’s Consumers and Users Organization (OCU), a not-for-profit group created in 1975 and dedicated to protecting the rights of consumers.
In their survey, the OCU polled over 400 3DTV users with questions ranging from the technical performance of their screens to the personal viewing experience, as well as detected problems and preferred brands.
According to the published results, users spent 13% of their viewing time on average watching 3D content. Most of that content originated from Blu-Ray/DVD players, followed by TV channels showing - in decreasing order of preference - film, documentary and sports programming. This result seems reasonable, if not a little high to me.
For the majority of performance-related issues, like image resolution, quality of 3D effects, subtitle legibility and price/quality relationship, Panasonic PDP 3DTVs were the top brand. On the question of the interoperability of the TV set with gaming consoles, Sony was the top choice. Again, this seems reasonable given Sony’s PlayStation dominance.
The results also showed that 70% of owners preferred LED LCD 3DTVs followed by PDP 3DTVs (15%) and LCD 3DTVs with CCFL backlights (14%). This data suggests some confusing results. If only 15% preferred PDP 3DTVs, yet the majority thought PDP performance was best, why was the preference number so low?
Another issue identified by the report was conveniences with the 3D glasses. This is not surprising, but no information was released on the nature of these issues or on the percentage of users who voiced concerns. More than likely, that means these numbers were big, so they were not revealed.
So while some of these numbers seem reasonable, it is the lack of full disclosure that can make you wonder about the validity of the results.
A second survey from UK-based research firm YouGov, focused on what cinema goers thought of their 3D theatrical experience. Full results of the survey can be found here. Note that this data includes the gender, age, social grade and UK region of the survey participant, but it also includes their political affiliation (Conservative, Labor, Liberal Democrat). The YouGov poll of 2796 adults was weighted to be representative of the British adult population as a whole.
Results show that 48% of cinema goers polled (2259 of the 2796 polled were cinema goers) had been to a 3D film in the last 5 years. The remaining questions were apparently asked of this same group, even though 51% said they had not seen a 3D film in the last 5 years. Amazingly, only 31% of respondents said they didn’t know if the 3D experience was better than 2D. That means 20% expressed an opinion on this and other questions without having seen a 3D movie in the last 5 years! Therefore, one must question the outcome of this survey.
So what did the survey show? It found that only 22% said the 3D experience was better than 2D, 19% thought it was worse and 28% about the same.
When asked to choose between the 2D and 3D version of the film if there was no premium for the 3D, 47% said they would be more likely to see it in 3D.
The price premium was then explored to determine the top amount consumers would pay. 48% said they would pay no premium, with 18% willing to pay £1 with 11% able to pay £2. The "no premium" response is not surprising, but Hollywood can take some solace that consumers do see some value in 3D and will pay something for it. On the other hand, 41% "think 3D is a gimmick."
In five years, only 26% think all films will be in 3D, while 16% think no films will be shown in 3D.
The other dangerous part about surveys is that certain responses are often cited by various constituencies, painting an incomplete picture of the results. What number do you need to support your business plan? I am sure there is survey out with the number you need (plus others that totally refute the finding). Let the reader beware.