Latest CEMA Research Shows Strong Interest in DTV

Digital television (DTV) sales to dealers exceeded 50,000 units at the end of August, according to figures released last week by the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association (CEMA). At CEMA's recent DTV Summit, the organization's fifth, CEMA president Gary Shapiro stated that "DTV is moving forward at a promising pace, and we expect continued success in the third and fourth quarters."

CEMA's vice president of market research, Todd Thibodeaux, presented preliminary results of CEMA's latest consumer, retailer, and owner research on DTV. Since last March, Thibodeaux reported, consumer awareness of DTV has increased by more than a third—from 60% to 85%. "With increased awareness comes increased interest in purchasing the technology," said Thibodeaux. The results show that 51% of consumers surveyed expect their next television purchase to be a digital set. That figure translates into 46 million households purchasing a DTV over the next eight years, up six million from July 1998.

The CEMA research finds that picture resolution (95%) and sound quality (69%) ranked highest as factors in DTV purchases, with interactivity applications not far behind (32%). According to results from retail surveys, Thibodeaux announced, consumer interest is increasing in stores. "Ninety-one percent of retailers have seen at least some increase in consumer questions about DTV in the last six months.

"The questions consumers are asking retailers about DTV are positive—when will it be available? How will it work with current equipment? What are the differences between HDTV and SDTV?" reported Thibodeaux. "And retailers report that about 85% of consumers who see HDTV are impressed or very impressed with the technology."

Retailer expectations for DTV have been met (42%) or exceeded (18%), according to CEMA's research. One-fourth of those surveyed expect total industry sales of DTV in 2000 to exceed expectations.

CEMA also released early results from an ongoing survey of actual DTV owners. Of the owners initially surveyed, 95% said they would make the same purchase again. The study revealed that owners purchased the sets primarily for picture-quality improvements, and all of those surveyed are having their expectations met or exceeded. And if the survey is any indication, word-of-mouth will play a role in future DTV sales. Ninety-five percent of current owners said they would recommend DTV to a friend for their next TV purchase.