October 12, 2007
3D Daytime TV, Brought to You by Walgreens

As high-definitiion becomes increasingly ubiquitous, the new frontier of experimentation continues to be 3D TV. Whle sports organizations and networks have been the predominant experimenters with 3D technology and television content, the latest tinkerer looking to add a dimension to his show is one that American daytime audiences might know well: the shy TV producer at the sidelines, Michael Gelman.

Gelman is the not-so-behind-the-scenes executive producer of Live with Regis and Kelly, the daytime talk show featuring longtime TV personality Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa, a daytime TV star in multiple genres. The 3D experiment will be featured as a stunt for Halloween. As longtime viewers of Live will know, Halloween has long been a featured episode on the show, stretching back to the days that it was Kathy Lee Gifford instead of Kelly Ripa.

This is more than just an experiment with 3D technology, though: it is also an experiment in sponsorship, as the special 3D Halloween episode will be brought to viewers by Walgreens pharmacy. As soon as the episode was planned, Disney-ABC went forward to find a sponsor willing to take part in playing 3D to the home viewing audience.

The special episode was announced earlier this week, and Walgreens will be spelling 3D glasses for viewers to help prepare them for the Oct. 31 telecast. In Jon Lafayette's story on this special episode and the Walgreens partnership, a Walgreens spokesperson points out how important Halloween is for Walgreens with candy sales, decorations, and costumes, as well as being one of the biggest picture-sharing seasons for the Walgreens photo department, as people take pictures of their children in costume and share them with others.

Walgreen's main sponsorship was to help cover the costs of the 3D glasses and distributing them to viewers. THey are doing so through the photo department at Walgreens in hopes to convince people to come back to the photo department to develop pictures of their little monsters after the holiday.

Promotional material will be set up throughout Walgreens, and audio hyping the show will be played on the overhead speakers, among other promotional messages. There will also be email mail-outs and regular promos on the Live show.

Lafayette writes, "The live staff has been studying old movies made in 3-D to find visual gags that work well in the format, such as like spraying water or throwing knives and spears toward the camera. The 3-D effect will be interspersed throughout the show, but Mr. Gelman declined to be specific about what stunts they'll pull."

Some viewers have voiced frustration about what happens if they don't pick up 3D glasses and will instead be confronted with an out-of-focus show in red and blue. One would certainly think that the number of new viewers the show could pick up through Walgreens' promotion could be offset by the number of people who won't be able to watch the show because they tune in that day without remembering to have 3D glasses nearby, or for those who don't have a Walgreens in their area (is that possible these days?) and don't know where to pick up 3D glasses.

We have previously discussed 3D television in relation to sports. Last August, I wrote about FOX Sports and their experiments in 3D, saying, "FOX Sports feels that 3-D will be especially valuable to sports broadcasts, and I would agree that the 3-D format could transform the way the game is displayed and understood. But, considering how little we really understand 3-D since we've never seen great examples of it other than things you have to wear the glasses for, it's hard to know what this might mean."

Back in February, I wrote about NBA 3D HD viewing parties in Las Vegas, designed to popularize public 3D viewings in spaces that have 3D movie theaters as well. I wrote, "Will the technology, combined with the social aspects, convince people to leave their sets at home to watch live sporting events in the theater? The movie theater when transformed into sports viewing venue changes the nature of watching on the big-screen considerably, with audience reactions and the sort."

The Regis and Kelly promotion, however, is likely the most mainstream attempt at popularizing 3D television content yet. It will be interesting to see how this episode is received and how well the live 3D event works technically.