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Study: HD Programming Confuses Consumers

29 Nov, 2006 By: Erik Gruenwedel

While proliferation of HDTV remains unabated — especially during the holiday shopping season — an increasing number of consumers appear to be shying away from HD programming, according to a new report.

A survey of 1,200 HDTV consumers by Marion, Iowa-based research firm Frank N. Magid Associates, found that 47% purchased flat panel displays based on the availability of and desire for HD programming, compared to 63% two years ago.

About 15% of U.S. homes have HDTV. Sales of flat panel HDTVs will double to 3.2 million units during the fourth quarter — double from 2005.

The report found that 30% of HDTV owners had not sought out HD programming from their local cable or satellite provider due to additional cost concerns (both real and imagined) and confusion over channel location of HD programming — often in triple digit.

Many respondents believed all channels would be broadcast in HD on their HDTV. Others were unaware that HD channels are available over the air. Once located, less than 70% were satisfied with their HD programming choices.

“That's pretty mediocre,” said Maryann Baldwin, executive director of Magid Media Futures.

Baldwin said most HDTV shoppers are so engrossed in purchasing the new technology — given the cost — there isn't much “mental bandwidth” left for the programming.

She said diverse reasons beyond HD programming for the purchase of HDTV, included screen size, appeal of flat-panel monitors and related aesthetic factors.

Baldwin said respondents' “minimal” interest in next-generation packaged media did favor HD DVD, a factor she attributed more to the intuitive name awareness of the format than dissatisfaction with the less recognizable Blu-ray format.

She said the influx of multiple new video game systems has spurred sales of HDTV, with sales in the past year directly related to the release of the Xbox 360.

“We saw a high correlation between Xbox 360 ownership and HDTV purchases in the past year,” Baldwin said.

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