CEA Survey Says: Consumers Want HDTV, Whatever That Is

The Consumer Electronics Association said its latest survey shows that consumers are chomping at the bit to buy HD sets and programming, yet are pretty much in the dark regarding the peripherals necessary to receive HD programming.

According to the CEA, a random sample of consumers in more than 1,000 households indicated that "9 million households are likely to purchase high-definition television (HDTV) products over the next 18 months, and another 30 million consumers consider themselves likely purchasers within the next three years." (The actual percentage of respondents to this query was not given, nor the total number of households upon which the 9 million and 30 million figures are based. If total U.S. TV households was used--105.5 million--the percentage would be 8.5 percent.)

As far as receiving HD programming, the CEA's survey reflected similar findings published earlier this year by Forrester researcher, Josh Bernoff: Quite a few consumers don't know they need something besides a an HD set to get HDTV. The CEA's survey, conducted by its for-profit research division, eBrain, found that 74 percent of those questioned didn't know they would need a set-top box to get HD content, and 78 percent didn't realize they'd need an HD device to record it. More than 54 percent thought they would see every show on television in high-def if they simply had a hi-def set.

CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro said that "all industries with a stake in the DTV transition must increase our efforts toward not only educating all consumers about HDTV, but also in delivering what consumers want out of this transition."

Of those surveyed, 54 percent said they'd be more likely to buy and HD set if it was plug-and-play capable. As for the type of programming that people would most like to see in HD, 38 percent said movies; 21 percent, sports; and 14 percent, educational or informational.

"Conversely," Shapiro said, "the majority of HD programming currently provided by the networks--comedies, dramas and sitcoms rank lower," Shapiro said. "Broadcasters must step up compelling program offerings to deliver the 30 million expected HDTV buyers over the next three years."

Fielded by telephone in September, the survey covered 1,000 households. Results have a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.