Commentary

HDTV Marketing: Blurry And Missing Images

When it comes to high-def TV sets, consumer marketing doesn't go far enough. It sells the car but forgets to tell consumers they need gas.

According to research by CTAM, the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing, in December 2006, only 52% of HDTV owners who subscribed to HD service said they needed to experience true higher quality TV viewing. And 34% of owners who weren't HD subscribers weren't aware they needed to subscribe to a programming service when they purchased their HDTV sets.

But that's not nearly the real problem: CTAM's study further revealed that most HD owners aren't even aware they're missing out on those better images.

David Poltrack, chief research officer at CBS Corp., recently said CBS research showed HDTV owners complaining that "HDTV wasn't really anything special," that it wasn't that much different from old-line analog sets. Worse, and perhaps more confusing, 61% of the non-subscribers surveyed by CTAM believe that HD picture quality is the same as a DVD's.

To those people, I say that there's some real estate in Florida for sale -- without sewage or garbage pickup or neighborhoods.

Big-time TV marketing doesn't deliver. Some believe the blame goes to aggressive TV sales personnel at the retail level -- selling high-end quality TV sets to consumers without offering up the knowledge that HD service is also needed.

Those consumers must be either too embarrassed, or too dumb, to realize that they have, in essence, bought a car without tires. Both major consumer products aren't going anywhere.

One wonders if a backlash isn't in order towards brands such as Sony, Philips, Panasonic, and Sharp. No doubt consumers will all be on Amazon soon to express their displeasure at the quality of the picture while watching next month's Super Bowl.

In delivering this news, the cable's industry CTAM is hoping, in part, to stir cable operators into better marketing for HDTV set consumers. This is one of the few areas where satellite distributors have been seemingly ahead of cable operators.

CTAM's intention is also to implore consumers to buy such higher-priced services -- either that, or to offend them.

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