In an exclusive article published online by our friends at 3D Focus, Torsten Hoffmann, a recognized leader in 3D content as the distributor of one of the largest stereoscopic 3D portfolios in the world, warned producers against unrealistic expectations for the commercial value of 3D content and outlined the business models of making money with 3D content.

Here are the highlights:

Why the 3D content market’s tough

The 2D pie is much larger. Thousands of TV channels, VOD platforms, web video offerings, DVD companies catering for a global 2D audience of a few billion people means easily 100 times more potential buyers for 2D content than 3D.

3D supply and demand meet at a much lower level. It’s true that there are millions of hours of 2D content available in the market including endless archive material, whereas 3D content is in limited supply. But at the end of the day it is not about how much demand there is for 3D content, but what prices the buyers are willing to pay.

There are relatively few top-tier 3D buyers. Smaller 3D channels have very little distribution (read=cashflow), are working on low budgets and/or are producing most of their content in-house. Cable or IPTV platforms that want to offer 3D as VOD or as a barker channel view 3D is a “PR” thing and are not spending a disproportionate amount of content budgets on titles that only 1 or 2 percent of their customers can watch.

What producers can do about it

Double dip. Monetize 3D productions as 2D titles as well (cannibalisation effects aside).

Rise to the top. There are a few high-end productions that are being grabbed by all the major tier-one buyers.

Think outside the broadcaster. There are new and rapidly growing alternative ways to distribute 3D content.

Explore new places. Many players in this industry are focusing their efforts on the core territories when there is also a lot of interest from emerging markets.

Excerpts taken and repurposed from an article written by Hoffmann which appeared on the 3D Focus website on Nov. 29, 2011.

Watch for Part 2 of this feature at