New survey shows millions of consumers ready to buy HDTV despite confusion

Results from a new consumer survey show 9 million households are likely to buy HDTV products over the next 18 months and another 30 million consumers say they’re likely to buy within the next three years.

However, according to the new Consumer Electronics Association survey, many consumers continue to be confused about HDTV specifics. For example, 74 percent of respondents said they did not know that they often needed a set-top box to watch HDTV programming, and 78 percent said they were unaware that they needed an HDTV-enabled recorder to record shows. More than half said they didn’t know that they would be unable to watch all TV shows in HDTV because many are still only available in standard resolution.

Addressing a conference session on HDTV consumer awareness sponsored by CEA's DTV Subdivision this week, CEA president and CEO Gary Shapiro discussed findings from the study, “HDTV Consumer Awareness Update," conducted by CEA's for-profit research arm, eBrain.

Although confusion remains in the minds of consumers, progress is being made on the education front. “Eighty percent of consumers now recognize that HDTV offers 'crystal clear pictures,'" Shapiro continued. "Additionally, key terms such as digital TV, high-definition TV and HDTV have all caught on with at least three out of five consumers. This is a marked improvement from the study CEA conducted two years ago.”

"Still," said Shapiro, "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. According to our survey, they want digital cable-ready HDTV and they want movies and sports programming."

The survey revealed 54 percent of consumers said the ability to plug their cable line directly into a high-definition TV would make them more likely to buy an HDTV set. Programming considerations are important factors as well. Of the respondents, 38 percent said they would be most interested in or excited about HDTV movies. Sports coverage came second with 21 percent, followed by educational or informational programs at 14 percent.

The CEA survey was conducted via telephone in September and covered 1,000 households. Results have a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.

For information about accessing the full report, please visit

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