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Poll: Tepid Interest Seen In HD Disc Players

Rochester, N.Y. — A new Harris Interactive Poll has found U.S. enthusiasm for high-definition movie players has been only “lukewarm” so far, with just 11 percent saying they own a player using the defunct HD DVD format and 7 percent saying they own a dedicated Blu-ray machine.

Meanwhile, 9 percent said they owned a Sony PlayStation3, which plays back Blu-ray Disc movies in addition to video games, and 3 percent said they have the external HD DVD drive for the Xbox 360 (which plays HD DVDs).

The online survey of 2,401 U.S. adults was conducted between April 13-21.

On a positive note, the poll found that ownership of high-definition disc players was up from May 2008.

Harris said that while Blu-ray was the clear “format war” winner over HD DVD, sales of HD DVD players (11 percent in 2009 vs. 6 percent in 2008) are up over 2008 by about the same margin as Blu-ray players (7 percent in 2009 vs. 4 percent in 2008).

Sony PlayStation3, meanwhile, saw a jump in ownership from 5 percent to 9 percent. Only 3 percent purchased the external HD DVD drive for the Xbox 360, up from 1 percent in 2008.

Harris also said it does not see a pending surge of interest in HD players of any format — only 7 percent of non-Blu-ray player owners reported “a likely purchase of a Blu-ray disc player within the next year,” down from 9 percent in May 2008.

As for ownership of HDTV sets, which are required to derive the full benefit from a Blu-ray or HD DVD player, almost half of consumers surveyed reported owning a high-definition television (47 percent), up 35 percent from May of 2008.

Ownership of an HDTV set rose significantly between income classes. Only 27 percent of households with incomes less than $35,000 reported having one, while 62 percent of households making more than $75,000 said they had an HDTV.

On average, consumers purchased approximately six standard-format DVDs in the last six months compared with one in an HD format (HD DVD seven vs. Blu-ray five).

However, plans to purchase standard-format DVDs are down by half compared with past six-month purchases, while interest in HD DVDs (6 percent) and Blu-ray (7 percent) are holding their own, Harris said.

Purchases of HD DVD-format titles “reflect the continued sales of the HD DVD players within the past year,” Harris said.

“When Blu-ray player or PS3 owners are asked specifically about standard vs. Blu-ray format purchases, the results suggest a mixed bag of behaviors with some price sensitivity indicated,” Harris said.

Only one-quarter plan to switch to Blu-ray completely (25 percent), while one-third of Blu-ray or PS3 owners claimed that most of their movie purchases are now on Blu-ray format (32 percent);

Two in five are waiting for Blu-ray format prices to come down before they buy more (43 percent) — and a quarter buy Blu-ray regardless of price (25 percent).

Only one in five appear to be replacing or duplicating their existing standard-format DVD library with Blu-ray format (21 percent), and more than a third said they only buy movies on Blu-ray format that they currently do not own on standard-definition (37 percent), Harris said.

In addition to financial issues that may be slowing consumer adoption, Milton Ellis, Harris Interactive Technology senior consultant and VP, said, “Blu-ray also faces competition from alternative technologies such as cable, satellite and the Internet. Consumers today can easily watch high-definition TV channels or use the Internet or video-on-demand to access high-definition movies.”

“In the near future, access to high-definition movies may be a download or streaming delivery of one’s favorite movies to a home media server that eliminates the need for a Blu-ray player and Blu-ray disc,” he continued. “One thing is for sure — the market will be highly competitive and consumers will have a wide variety of choices for their entertainment experience.”

Harris said the poll was open to adults 18 years and older. Figures for age, sex, race, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.