Q&A: Media Trends Analyst Bruce Leichtman

Bruce Leichtman is president/principal analyst of the Leichtman Research Group, a media research firm based in Durham, N. H. He spoke recently with HD Notebook.
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Bruce Leichtman is president/principal analyst of the Leichtman Research Group, a media research firm based in Durham, N. H. He spoke recently with HD Notebook:

HD Notebook: What will you be looking for as this holiday sales season draws to a close, as far as HD trends and issues?

Leichtman: Up to a third of all DTV sets are sold in this time frame, and there will be both new buyers and those out their second and maybe third [HD] sets. That’s what people forget—that there’s the other type of HD customers out there who already maybe had a set in the house—and they’re looking for more sets [based] on what they already know. So HD sort of mushrooms in homes. Once people have it, they’ll want to grow it around their house. The first set is the primary one, the larger one, and usually the supplemental sets are the smaller units for the kitchen, bedroom, and garage.

HD Notebook: How far along is the American public’s ‘HD education’, and what should all of them know before walking into a retailer?

Leichtman: I’ll talk about one level, on HD programming. A majority of people in our surveys are not being adequately educated at point-of-sale, and still today about under half as we know are not watching HD programming. And 20 percent think they’re watching HD but are not.

HD Notebook: Is there anything about the DTV transition that the industry may be overlooking, or paying too little heed, at this stage?

Leichtman: I think for consumers the transition itself is a whole different element from HD [programming], and think this adds to the current confusion. But about half the sets that are ‘broadcast only’ today that will be affected [February 2009] because they are not linked to cable, satellite or telco, are in homes that do have HD services. I think people forget that.

So it’s not just that small percentage of homes that have only terrestrial services and only broadcast-only analog sets. It’s a lot of HD homes, too, because these people have second and third sets, too, that are strictly over-the-air sets and suddenly a half or a third of their home sets won’t work anymore, only that primary HD set. And by the way, that number isn’t changing much: Homes with HD sets often hang on to their analog over-the-air sets because they continue working just fine for now.