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HDTV and Next-Gen Discs Linked at the Hip

14 Mar, 2005 By: Kurt Indvik

This week in Home Media Retailing, senior reporter Jessica Wolf takes a look at the progress of HDTV, with an eye towards its relationship to the eventual rollout of the next generation high-definition discs from Blu-ray Disc and/or HD-DVD.

No doubt, consumers are drawn to the higher picture quality of digital TVs and relate that directly to the potential for them to enjoy their DVD viewing that much more. As pricing comes down on DTV, that opportunity will lure more consumers to find the $1,000, $2,000 or thereabouts to buy DTV as their collection of DVD grows. Consumers also are aware of the potential for HDTV, another reason for being attracted to DTV.

But there is some confusion. It seems that some consumers think that if they buy their DTV, they're going to get HDTV, which is, of course, not the case. You must either buy a DTV with an HD tuner integrated into the set, or you have to buy a separate HD tuner at the store, or through your cable company, for several hundred dollars more.

Though estimates show that DTV penetration in the United States is at about 16 percent, it's not quite clear how many of those sets are truly HDTV-enabled as yet.

There is a significant and growing base of TV programming being delivered in HD. Conventional wisdom is that as consumers buy more DTVs, convert them to HDTV and begin watching HD content, they will want their packaged media to have the same quality. Thus, the push for the next generation of digital high-definition discs and the players on which to play them. And vice versa. At least one studio executive thinks that consumers may be attracted to replacing their DVD players with HD disc players first, knowing that they will also eventually be getting HDTV.

It's apparent that the progression toward HDTV is likely to take longer than anticipated, even under government mandate (which doesn't require a total switch to HD broadcasting until 85 percent of a region is HD-enabled).

There is a definite relationship to the success of next-generation, high- definition discs to HDTV, but at this point, I don't see HDTV being a technological ice breaker for the new disc format; rather, it seems they may evolve in tandem.

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