3-D glasses are held up to a 50-inch plasma 3-D television set. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles…)
Walt Disney Studios has agreed to a content license agreement with Sensio Technologies Inc. for the distribution of 3-D films via a new video-on-demand television service, the companies announced Monday.
Sensio's on-demand rental service, called 3DGo, is to go live this month, though initially it will be limited to 22 Vizio television models that have both 3-D and Internet capabilities.
Disney titles that will be available on 3DGo include the animated films "Brave" and "Frankenweenie." In total, more than 20 movies from the studio, a unit of Walt Disney Co., will be available at launch.
But the service would seem to appeal to a somewhat limited audience -- at least initially -- because consumers' thirst for 3-D televisions has been weak. Although manufacturers have promoted the expensive sets, they represent just a fraction of all televisions sold in the U.S.
According to data released by research firm IHS Screen Digest, as of last fall, only about 6.9 million of the country's roughly 331 million television sets are able to show 3-D programming. (The company forecast that the number of 3-D-capable sets would rise to 19.3 million after the 2012 holiday shopping season.) Vizio declined to say how many 3-D enabled, Internet-connected sets it has sold.
Chris Saito, general manager of 3DGo, said his company "is not denying the fact that 3-D at home has not taken off yet," though he believes the new service has an advantage over its natural competitor, 3-D films on Blu-ray.
He said that until the advent of 3DGo, "you had to buy another device -- a Blu-ray player -- and you had to buy content in a store. You can't deny the opportunity for 3-D in the home. We feel that 3DGo is able to overcome the challenges of why 3-D at home hasn't taken off."
Saito said he expects that "a couple more" manufacturers of 3-D, Internet-enabled televisions will carry the 3DGo service by the end of the year.
Among the other companies that have signed distribution deals with Montreal-based Sensio are National Geographic and Starz. Movies will cost $4.99 to $7.99, with new releases at the higher end of the price spectrum. Sensio has said 50 titles will be available at launch.
Saito said that the service will roll out in China later this year. He declined to discuss the financial terms of the arrangement with Disney.
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