HDTV sales expected to increase

Nine million households are likely to purchase high-definition television (HDTV) products over the next 18 months and another 30 million consumers consider themselves likely purchasers within thenext three years according to results of the Consumer Electronics Association’s (CEA) latest consumer survey regarding the digital television (DTV) transition.

Speaking this morning at a conference session on HDTV consumer awareness sponsored by CEA’s DTV Subdivision, CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro revealed this finding and other highlights from the study – “HDTV Consumer Awareness Update” – conducted by CEA’s for-profit research arm, eBrain. The session occurred in conjunction with CEA’s Industry Forum, which runs through Wednesday.

“With seven million DTV products sold-to-date representing a $12 billion consumer investment, it is not surprising to find in this survey that consumers have become attracted to high-definition television’s crystal clear viewing, superior audio and widescreen format,” Shapiro noted. “More than half of all survey respondents said they view the HDTV transition as a positive. This supports our projections that millions more consumers will purchase an HDTV in the near future.

“Even with this success and continued optimism, hurdles remain. The survey also revealed a degree of consumer confusion remains regarding the transition, the technology and HDTV reception requirements,” said Shapiro.

The CEA survey – a random sample of more than 1,000 American consumers – found that consumers are somewhat confused regarding the products needed to view HDTV. For instance, nearly three-quarters (74 percent) do not know they often need a set-top box to watch HDTV shows and more than three-quarters (78 percent) do not know they need an HDTV-enabled recorder to record them. Plus, more than half (54 percent) are not aware they can not watch all TV shows in high-definition format because many programs are not yet broadcast in HDTV.

“While we still have more work to do, we’ve definitely made progress on the overall HDTV education front as demonstrated by the fact that 85 percent of consumers now recognize that HDTV offers ‘crystal clear pictures,'” Shapiro continued. “Additionally, key terms such as digital TV, high-definition TV and HDTV have all caught on with at least three out of five consumers. This is a marked improvement from the study CEA conducted two years ago.

“Still,” said Shapiro, “all industries with a stake in the DTV transition must increase our efforts toward not only educating all consumers about HDTV, but also in delivering what consumers want out of this transition. According to our survey, they want digital cable-ready HDTV and they want movies and sports programming.”

Survey results indicate that more than half – 54 percent – of all consumers say the ability to plug their cable line directly into a high-definition TV would make them more likely to buy an HDTV set. Programming also plays an integral role in consumers’ HDTV considerations. Movies top the list of programming that consumers would most like to watch in the high-definition format. Nearly four out of 10, or 38 percent, of consumers say they would be most interested in or excited about HDTV movies. Sports coverage comes second with 21 percent, followed by educational or informational programs at 14 percent.

“Conversely, the majority of HD programming currently provided by the networks – comedies, dramas and sitcoms rank lower,” Shapiro said. “Broadcasters must step up compelling program offerings to deliver the 30 million expected HDTV buyers over the next three years. As always, CEA remains committed to promoting HDTV and educating consumers about a technology that is outpacing color TV, PC and VCR adoption rates. We look to our industry partners to do the same.”

Fielded by telephone in September, the survey covered 1,000 households. Results have a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points. For information about accessing the full report, please www.eBrain.org.

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