By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) projects that by year's end, more than one million "Digital Cable Ready" (DCR) HDTVs will be sold in the United States.
Beginning this summer, American consumers will be able to receive digital high-definition (HDTV) programming via cable for the first time without the need for a set-top box.
Under terms of the landmark cable-consumer electronics "plug-and-play" DCR agreement ratified last fall by the Federal Communications Commission, CEA officially notified Cable Television Laboratories Inc. (CableLabs) today that more than a half million Digital Cable Ready HDTVs are expected to be on the market through Sept. 30.
CEA also said that more than a million HD sets and cable subscribers will need a CableCARD by the holiday season. That same number of CableCARDs will be needed to support the rollout of the dual ATSC-cable tuner integrated television sets. Coupled with a positive fourth-quarter forecast, this means explosive growth, eclipsing a million units in just six or seven months, according to CEA industry analysis director Sean Wargo.
"The extraordinary forecast represents DTV manufacturers' rollout of integrated products having both ATSC tuners for off-air reception and cable tuners for digital cable reception," said Wargo. "We're bullish about DTV in 2004 — particularly Digital Cable Ready HDTVs — consumers will easily identify by their distinct 'DCR' logo. With July 1, 2004 signifying the start of the FCC's requirement for large-screen TVs with built-in off-air DTV tuners and the CableCARD implementation date, DTV manufacturers are working to provide American consumers DTV products that suit their reception needs."
A CableCARD is the security card required from the cable provider in order for consumers to enjoy any encrypted programming or premium services. CableCARDs are to be available directly from operators beginning July 1 — the date by which cable multiple system operators (MSOs) with digital systems (of 750Mhz) are required to support FCC-endorsed Digital Cable Ready standards.
"With hundreds of thousands of CableCARDs needed before football season gets underway, we presume that cable operators have ordered sufficient quantity of the new cards to insure that HDTV buyers will be able to get the cards they will need to become cable HDTV subscribers," CEA president/CEO Gary Shapiro said.
"Receiving HDTV over cable without a set-top box is a long-awaited driver of the DTV transition and will provide millions of households with a seamless transition to high-def. It is important to note that Digital Cable Ready HDTVs also include over-the-air DTV tuners for terrestrial DTV broadcasts," Shapiro noted.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.