Can premium big-screen viewing thrive when so many are tuning into thrown-together YouTube videos on small tablets? 3net Studios wants you to believe it can.
A joint venture of Discovery Communications (NASDAQ:DISCA), IMAX (NYSE:IMAX), and Sony (NYSE:SNE), 3net this week announced five new shows designed specifically for 3-D TV and ultra-high definition 4K screens, including a documentary series titled "SPACE" and a stop-motion comic called "MARKSMEN."
The hope? Succeed where Hollywood has mostly failed, beginning with filling what 3net executives perceive to be a content gap. "Today's announcement marks an important first step in our ongoing mission to meet the increasing global demand for high-quality, original 3D and 4K television content head on," studio president and CEO Tom Cosgrove said in a press release.
Content hasn't been a problem for theaters. Several action features were treated with RealD's (UNKNOWN:RLD.DL) stereoscopic technology, too often with poor results. The Dark Knight Rises wasn't shot in 3-D because of director Christopher Nolan's preference for celluloid and widescreen IMAX.
Whether viewers prove as discerning as Nolan when remains to be seen, but some analysts continue to predict a bright future of 3-D and 4K television. For example, NPD projects the total market for 3-D TVs will grow from 25 million units last year to 180 million units by 2019 -- a sevenfold increase.
4K isn't directly related to 3-D. Instead, it's a widescreen format measuring roughly 4,000 pixels horizontally in order to display more action in a picture. Few cameras are built to shoot 4K, though (surprise!) Sony's CineAlta is one. The studio also produces a 4K projector and is among the leaders in developing 3-D TVs.
Will 3net's programming push unleash a broader effort to create 3-D and ultra HD content? I think it's too early to tell. As an investor, I'd be much more interested if 3net's programs were being distributed through established services such as YouTube.
Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of, and had a long-term call options position in, Netflix at the time of publication. Check out Tim's web home, portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Google+, Tumblr, or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.
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