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Changes Seen In HDTV Adoption

Hollywood, Calif. — As penetration of HDTV sets reaches half of all homes in the United States, the second half of the adoption phase is likely to look a lot different than the first half, according to The NPD Group.

Ross Rubin, The NPD Group industry analysis director, said this to attendees at the DisplaySearch HDTV 2008 Conference here Tuesday.

Rubin revealed findings from a recent Fast Check study of about 1,500 consumers that showed consumer intentions to purchase HDTVs and related components this year and beyond.

Rubin said HDTV penetration levels are now at about 46 percent of U.S. households, with 34 percent of homes having only one HDTV and 13 percent owning multiple HDTVs.

Consumers are satisfied with the value of the HDTV sets, service and programming, he said, but they are “finding frustration in setting up their HDTVs,” and 46 percent see difficulty in hooking up components, Rubin observed, citing the need to make HDTVs easier to take home and use by the typical do-it-yourselfers who will make up a large segment of the new buying public.

Many of these new consumers will be looking to trade up to bigger screens, with 42 percent of consumers saying they would like to see a 50-inch-plus HDTV in their living room, and 21 percent saying they have their eyes on a 55-inch-plus set.

For secondary room placements, 40 percent would opt for a 40-inch plus HDTV in their master bedroom, with the 40- to 44-inch segment representing the biggest target.

Although important, 38 percent of consumers say price is not their primary purchase consideration, with picture quality ranking higher, Rubin said. But 28 percent said the picture quality of budget brands rivals that of premium brands, putting the onus on premium brands to better communicate their advantages.

For shopping preferences, one-third of consumers would rather shop for a TV at a retailer with a better price than at a store that provides better service at a higher price, Rubin said. One-third of consumers also find sales personnel at consumer electronics chains knowledgeable about HDTVs.

Regarding the DTV transition, 55 percent of consumers believe the end of analog broadcasting has been well communicated, with more than 30 percent saying they would buy an HDTV set this year.

Only 6 percent of consumers have redeemed coupons for converter boxes, 21 percent have not and 19 percent are unaware of the coupon program, Rubin said. Approximately 54 percent of those surveyed said they don’t plan to redeem converter box coupons.

As for the sound benefits of HDTV, half of consumers find integrated sound in TVs adequate for any room, while only 16 percent distinguish integrated sound for smaller rooms, said Rubin.

More than one in five people would pay for better audio in a TV set, but another fifth would not because they prefer even better sound using home theater components, he added.

Regarding plans for Blu-ray Disc player purchases, one in five of consumers surveyed still cite DVD quality as good enough, but 14 percent are waiting on price. Others need education, said Rubin. The biggest impediment to Blu-ray purchases remains a lack of an HDTV in the house, cited by 39 percent of respondents.

Among features in a digital television deemed most desired by consumers is the ability to download movies over broadband and wireless component connections.