Mandatory DTV Tuners May Kill Market for Analog Projection TVs, According to Study

Consumers' love of large, projection TVs will be a big part of the ATSC tuner's proliferation into the home, judging by an industry report. But new rules mandating DTV tuners could kill off analog projection sets sooner than expected.

3M Precision Optics, a maker of lenses for projection TVs, said in its annual market analysis that manufacturers can barely keep up with the demand for the big sets. And because those sets are the ones first targeted by the FCC's staggered mandate for inclusion of ATSC tuners, it will soon be hard to find a projection TV without one.

"Pending successful legal review of the FCC's measure, we expect nearly all models of PTVs introduced in the spring of 2004 to be equipped with an ATSC tuner," the company said in "Projection Television Past & Future: 2003 Global Consumer Market." "If the decline in analog PTV sales does not bring its demise sooner, this mandate will almost certainly drive the last nail in the coffin by July 1, 2004."

Plasma and LCD monitors without NTSC tuners are exempt from the mandate, the company noted. The report cites "consensus" that seems to peg tuner costs at $200 to $400 per set.

Consumers are already appreciating the quality of the sets, and viewers are getting used to quality pictures at 16:9, the company said. In 2002, sales of digital PTV sets jumped 71 percent while sales of analog PTVs dropped 27 percent.