A DTV in Every Home?

According to figures released by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) last week, early sales of digital television (DTV) outpace those of color TVs, video cassette recorders (VCRs), and digital broadcast satellite (DBS) systems combined. Speaking at the International Electronic Cinema Festival (IECF) in Portland, Oregon, CEA president and CEO Gary Shapiro called DTV "our biggest blockbuster yet," while expressing concern about limited DTV and high-definition television (HDTV) programming availability.

The CEA claims that if DTV unit sales reach the projected 425,000 in 2000, bringing total DTV set sales to more than 500,000, it will have outperformed combined sales of color TVs, VCRs, and DBS (445,000) during the same three-year introductory period. The organization says that dollar volume for DTV sales has shown a similar trend.

Shapiro states, "these numbers are extraordinary for an introductory consumer electronics product. It's looking like DTV may turn out to be our studio's biggest blockbuster yet. Consumers are excited about the technology and many are buying it. But the magic of DTV is more than extraordinary hardware."

Shapiro also outlined results of DTV owner research conducted by CEA in 1999. Overall, results show that 79% of DTV owners say their DTVs meet or exceed their expectations. For video quality, the number is 100%, and 74% for audio quality. Availability of programming, however, meets the expectations of only 28% (see related article). "As we move forward, broadcasters' willingness to deliver on DTV and HDTV will have a significant impact on the transition," said Shapiro.