DEG: HDTV Owners Prefer Blu-ray To Streaming

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Los Angeles — A new consumer study commissioned by the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG) indicates HDTV and Blu-ray Disc player owners still find packaged media — such as Blu-ray discs — preferable to alternative Internet streaming and download services to play premium HD movie and video content, the group revealed Friday.

The independent study was conducted by market research firm SmithGeiger and surveyed the inclinations and behavior of more than 1,100 HDTV owners in the United States, along with 500 HDTV owners each in the United Kingdom and Japan.

According to the DEG research, 96 percent of Blu-ray Disc users in the survey said they are familiar with downloading and streaming services, with two-thirds stating, “Watching a movie on Blu-ray is a better overall entertainment experience.”

HDTV owners familiar with Blu-ray favor the format over downloading and streaming by a nearly 10-to-1 margin, with almost 70 percent of those respondents citing the fact that “you actually have a physical disc that you can keep” as a key factor in their decision to buy Blu-ray. Additionally, nearly nine out of 10 Blu-ray users express likelihood to recommend the format to potential buyers.

The study also found a preference for Blu-ray across virtually all markets and demographics, meaning that Blu-ray Disc was preferred to Internet streaming and downloads even by younger audiences that are very familiar with Internet platforms, the DEG said.

The study found that 96 percent of Blu-ray owners said they had experienced downloading or streaming video over the Internet, but when they compared them the majority sided with Blu-ray while only 3 percent said downloading or streaming was better than Blu-ray. Thirty-five percent of respondents were in the middle. Sixty percent thought the sound quality of Blu-ray was better than streaming or downloading; 57 percent said the overall entertainment experience was better with Blu-ray than with streaming and downloaded material. Thirty-seven percent said the availability of content was better for Blu-ray vs. 16 percent for downloaded or streaming content. On price, Blu-ray didn’t fare as well but still held a slight lead over downloading and streaming.

Comparing all video options, 28 percent of HDTV owners said they had a Blu-ray Disc player compared with 78 percent who use a standard-def DVD player with their HDTV set, 43 percent who use video on demand, 21 percent who use downloading or streaming and 14 percent who use an up-converting DVD players.

Among Blu-ray owners, 60 percent said they were satisfied with the number of titles available in the format compared with 68 percent for standard-definition DVD.

The survey found some confusion among up-converting DVD player owners, with 69 percent saying their players produced near-HD-quality pictures and sound from standard-def DVDs; 64 percent said the player up-converted standard-definition DVD to the native resolution of their HDTV set; nearly two-thirds said it changed a 480i signal to a native progressive scan format, and 36 percent said it up-converted standard definition DVDs to the same quality as Blu-ray discs. One-third of those up-converting-player owners agreed that their unit plays back video that is just as good as Blu-ray only for less money.

Among Blu-ray owners, 85 percent were satisfied with the sound quality, compared with 70 percent for DVD and 74 percent for video-on-demand.

Respondents were asked to assess their overall satisfaction with HDTV and with the various cable, satellite and telco services currently available. They were also asked to compare the entertainment experience associated with viewing HD programming on various formats and platforms, including digital downloading or streaming via a set-top box or PC extender, movies viewed on a portable media player, and both up-converted standard definition DVDs and full high-definition (1080p) Blu-ray discs.

The results suggest that while HD digital downloads and streaming offer potential for the future, HDTV owners strongly believe that Blu-ray delivers a better value proposition, offering not just superior picture and sound quality but interactivity, collectability and greater convenience, the DEG said.

“The results of this global study clearly show that HDTV owners are enthusiastic about high-definition content and are familiar with a variety of HD delivery systems,” stated Amy Jo Smith, DEG executive director. “The research further showed that HDTV is transforming the home-entertainment landscape and is paving the way for other emerging platforms such as Blu-ray Disc.”

In other findings, the study found that HD channels are strongly sought after on multi-channel TV service. Some 86 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with the quality of their HD pictures delivered by the provider; while 79 percent were satisfied with the quality of the sound on those channels; 63 percent were satisfied with the number of standard-definition channels carried by their provider; 53 percent were satisfied with the quality of the picture on those standard-def channels. Fifty-eight percent were satisfied with the quality of the sound on those SD channels, and 45 percent were satisfied with the number of HD channels currently offered by their provider, showing a desire for more HD sources.

Two-thirds of respondents said their TV would be worth more to them if they had more HD channels; 53 percent said they would pay a little bit more to get some channels in HD, and 50 percent said they would rather watch a movie for free in SD than pay for it in HD.

Forty-five percent of respondents said they go to movies less often since getting an HDTV; 43 percent said that now that they have HD they don’t like the SD channels anymore, and just more than one-third said they watch shows they might not normally watch just because they are in HD.

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