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The Bulletin

BBC pulls the plug on 3D TV

Posting in Science

 Starting next year, viewers will watch all programming such as tennis - that's newly crowned Wimbledon champ Andy Murray at the U.S. Open - in good old two dimensions.

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If you're one of those people who believes that 3D television broadcasting is more gimmick than anything else, then you can now welcome one of the world's most prominent broadcasters into your club.

The BBC is suspending all 3D programming for three years amid slow uptake of the "hassly" technology, the RadioTimes reported.

There are about 1.5 million 3D TVs in British households, but many 3D TV owners don't bother to watch. For instance, only about half tuned into the Olympics last summer - a high profile television event in the Games' home country. 3D viewership figures were only 5 percent for some popular shows last Christmas.

“I have never seen a very big appetite for 3D television in the UK," said Kim Shillinglaw, the corporation's head of 3D. "Watching 3D is quite a hassly experience in the home. You have got to find your glasses before switching on the TV. I think when people watch TV they concentrate in a different way."

The BBC has been creating 3D programs for two years. One of its last 3D broadcasts before its hiatus will be an anniversary edition of the science fiction drama Dr. Who at the end of this year, when it will also show a 3D version of a nature program called Hidden Kingdom.

"After that we will see what happens when the recession ends and there may be more take up of sets but I think the BBC will be having a wait and see," Shillinglaw said. "It's the right time for a good old pause."

The BBC's decision echoed a recent move by U.S. sports giant ESPN to close its 3D channel.

Still, Shillinglaw did not dismiss 3D in general. She applauded the 3D work at rival British broadcaster BSkyB, the satellite operation that's part of Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox (see note below), citing their "mind-blowing" 3D nature programming.

Photo is from Charlie Cowins via Wikimedia

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that BSkyB is part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. In fact, Murdoch recently bifurcated the company, so that Sky is now part of the Murdoch-controlled 21st Century Fox, split out from News. Thanks to reader Neil Postlethwaite for pointing that out in his "Out of date" comment below. Corrected at 9:15 a.m. Pacific time.

— By on July 7, 2013, 11:05 PM PST

Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure