News | April 11, 2000

NAB2000: CEA Revises DTV Sales Projections; Urges Broadcasters to Step Up HDTV Content

LAS VEGAS – Emphasizing its longstanding argument that "content is king," the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) called on broadcasters this week to step up DTV programming efforts while announcing new market data and projections that demonstrate the link between DTV sales and available content. The data includes specific sales numbers for DTV receivers in 1999. CEA also released revised DTV sales projections based on three different programming scenarios.

According to the new data released by CEA, 17%, or 24,631 of the 143,218 total DTV products sold in 1999 (including monitors, integrated sets and digital set-top receiver/decoders) were capable of receiving digital broadcasts. CEA projects total sales of DTV products to reach 600,000 by year's end.

"Product sales demonstrate consumer enthusiasm for DTV's high-quality picture and sound. Consumers are opting to purchase high-resolution monitors even when programming is not widely available - to use with DVD players and pre-recorded, digital content," said Todd Thibodeaux, CEA VP of Market Research. "We can expect receivers to remain a small percentage of overall DTV sales until consumers have access to regular, high-quality DTV programming."

CEA also released revised DTV sales projections based on three programming rollout scenarios. According to CEA, if broadcasters choose the "fast lane" to DTV and demonstrate 100% compliance with the FCC's rollout schedule while providing a high percentage of digitally originated content to consumers, DTV product penetration could reach 50% by 2006.

If broadcasters take a "middle of the road" approach and experience continued station conversion delays while providing consumers with a high-percentage of up-converted analog content, DTV product penetration will be no more than 30% by 2006. Finally, if broadcasters choose the "off ramp" on the road to DTV – characterized by non-HDTV business models and delays related to reopening the DTV standard, DTV product penetration will only be 15 percent by 2006.

"We've seen very clearly the link between available content and consumer electronics product sales. If you look at color TV or DVD, the numbers demonstrate that product sales take off when content becomes widely available to consumers," noted CEA president and CEO Gary Shapiro. "DTV has done extraordinarily well so far, despite limited programming. Moving forward, broadcasters' willingness to step up and deliver on DTV could have a significant impact on the pace of the DTV transition - and the future of free, over-the-air TV. We urge the broadcast community to accelerate their programming efforts and deliver on DTV."

Edited by Tom Butts