Plenty of Converter Boxes Still Available Says Researcher

Although the waiting list for converter box coupons now exceeds two and a half million, once the coupons are distributed, there should be plenty of the devices available at retail stores, says a Dallas-based research firm.

To date, manufacturers have shipped an estimated 33.5 million converter boxes by the end of 2008, according to Digital Tech Consulting, based on analysis of government data, interviews with converter box manufacturers and component suppliers, and discussions with major retailers. Approximately 9 million converters are still available in the retail marketplace, the researcher said. The most popular sellers were boxes from RCA, Magnavox, Insignia and Zenith.

“While the Congress works out the last minute issues surrounding the waiting list for government coupons, the NTIA program has resulted in sales of nearly 20 million coupon-eligible converter boxes. And our research shows that as many as four million additional boxes have been sold to consumers without coupons,” said Myra Moore, principal at Digital Tech Consulting, which counts the Consumer Electronics Association and Zenith among its clients. “We believe there is ample supply of nearly nine million boxes in retail warehouses and store shelves ready for an onslaught of last-minute buyers.”

In the first quarter of 2008, 1.3 million units were shipped according to the researcher; shipment growth was 29 percent in the third quarter and 54 percent in the fourth quarter selling period. During the last three months of 2008, nearly 15 million converter boxes were shipped into distribution channels as broadcasters, consumer electronics interest groups and others ramped up public education programs.