The HDTV Tortoise

The HDTV Tortoise

Results from a recently completed Leichtman Research Group survey exemplify that while HDTV has not yet generated mass-market consumer interest, the product has solid niche appeal - particularly among high-end consumers. Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, writes that while 4% of all households in cable areas say that they have a TV set that is capable of receiving HD programming:

HDTV owners have an average household income of $95,800, 73% above the overall sample. More important than these initial adopters of HDTV are the motivating factors for then "next wave" of HDTV set purchasers. Core to the future growth of HDTV is the fact that television sets are a product that consumers replace and upgrade each year. With an average of 2.7 Television sets per home (in areas where cable is available), there are about 275 million TV sets in consumers' homes in the United States, and millions of new television sets continue to be purchased each year.

The LRG study found that

- 13% of households plan to purchase a new TV set in the next 12 months (a figure that may actually underestimate total sales by those who don't plan that far ahead in their TV purchases), and over one-quarter of this group expect to spend over $1,000 on a new TV set.

- Projecting this to all homes in areas where cable is available, this would represent over 3 million new TVs selling for $1,000 or more in the next 12 months.

- The number of consumers who say that they would be very likely to purchase an HDTV set in the next 12 months if it cost $1,000 echo this total.

- The high-end niche of consumers who are most interested in and likely to get HDTV represent key customers for cable and DBS providers to retain and acquire.

The falling prices of HDTV sets has spurred industry growth, and 7 million homes will have one by the end of this year. And:

  • 9% of all DBS subscribers say that they have an HDTV set, compared to 4% of all cable subscribers

  • While 17% of households in cable areas get DBS, 33% of households in these areas with an HDTV set subscribe to DBS

  • Those who are very likely to purchase an HDTV set in the next 12 months are also twice as likely as the overall base to currently subscribe to DBS. Analog TV sets will not go away any time soon, but digital TVs will continue to find a place in US households.

    "It may not be an overnight revolution, but watch out for the HDTV tortoise," concludes Jordan

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