Picture Brightens for HDTV, Study Predicts 60 Million U.S. Homes by 2008

After years of tepid sales, the picture appears to be getting brighter for high-definition television (HDTV). HDTV has emerged as a key feature for consumers in the selection of new televisions, finds a report released Tuesday by The Yankee Group.

In 2003, for example, sales of HDTV sets rose 66 percent over 2002. The sales are being driven in part by greater awareness and availability of HDTV programming and services. According to the Yankee study, consumer awareness of HDTV has reached 78 percent and purchase intent of HDTV sets has reached 20 percent of U.S., TV households.

Yankee forecasts that sales will accelerate due to:


*Greater HDTV content availability
*Greater fulfillment of the FCC's digital tuner/decoder mandate
*Declining HDTV set prices (20 percent annually)
*Increased retail availability
*Co-marketing arrangements between consumer electronics manufacturers and cable operators

The forecast, which measures both U.S. annual sales of HDTV monitors, as well as the installed base of U.S. households with a high-definition television, predicts that HDTV penetration will reach 59.3 million U.S. homes by the end of 2008.

Other factors that will drive the expansion include:


*Continued migration to HD content
*Further consumer education initiatives explaining the differences between HD-ready and HD-compatible televisions
*Advancements in digital-cable-ready televisions (an estimated 1 million will be sold in 2004)
*Advancements in digital interfaces.