The Trouble with DTV

It looked good on paper and at the demo: Digital Television and HDTV would revive the video market and create a wave of demand for new sets and playback equipment. Then there were the 8VSB versus COFDM and copy protection flaps, leading to shifting connection standards and uncertainty both on the manufacturing end and in the marketplace.

No surprise then that, according to a new Yankee Group report released last week, the transition to digital television broadcasting remains stalled. The new report, called "Up in the Air: The Future of Broadcast Television," says that broadcasters, network operators, programmers, and consumer electronics manufacturers are all blaming each other for the slow market evolution.

Yet sales of digital television monitors are beginning to gain traction for use in home theaters, with the Yankee Group forecasting that digital television monitors will be in 24 million US homes by the end of 2006. The report reviews the DTV bottleneck, but also offers insight into ways for accelerating DTV growth.

Report author Adi Kishore explains, "Broadcasters alone cannot drive the transition. Carriage by multichannel providers will be the key, along with an expanded slate of high-definition programming from the networks." Report co-author Ryan Jones adds, "Without increased support from providers and content owners, the challenge of educating consumers about the value of HDTV falls disproportionately on consumer electronics retailers."

Other conclusions in the report: Broadcasters must evaluate their proposed digital services and set deployment within the context of the services and timelines being considered by other broadcast stations in the market; multicasting and datacasting can add value to a station's brand even if the applications do not generate significant revenue.