ESPN has released a report about testing it conducted with sports fans and the viewing of sporting events on 3DTV. The study was conducted by ESPN Research + Analytics during the network’s 3D broadcasts of the 2010 FIFA World Cup last summer.
One of the results was that fan enjoyment of the event rose from 65% to 70% compared with 2D, while the sense of being there increased from 42% to 69%. (Maybe the small difference in the first numbers was because the fans were simply happy to see the World Cup games, whether they were in 2D or 3D.)
Perhaps more significant is the fact that 3D commercials were more effective than the 2D versions. According to the report, “cued recall” went from 68% to 83% with 3D ads, purchase intent increased from 49% to 83%, and the test subjects reporting that they liked the commercials went from 67% to 84%. Now some of this can reasonably be attributed to the novelty effect, but there is still enough smoke in these results that it could light a fire under the advertisers and get them to back 3DTV broadcasts.
One other interesting finding is that while some subjects reported that passive glasses were more comfortable and less distracting, the overall scores on the other measures were not affected significantly by which type of glasses the subjects wore. This could indicate that more comfortable active glasses might be just as acceptable to viewers as the passive glasses.
Clearly, ESPN has a vested interest in positive results for 3DTV broadcasts, as the network has already committed to televising live sports events in 3D. It has already announced college football events, including the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, and recently added 16 college basketball games starting on Thanksgiving Day with the Old Spice Classic tournament from Orlando, Florida. Even so, it appears that ESPN is sincere in its desire to understand what works and what doesn’t work for viewers of live 3D sports action. It is an expensive undertaking, and research such as this should help them climb the learning curve that much faster.