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Study: Industry Must Do More to Sell High-Def Discs

18 Sep, 2007 By: Erik Gruenwedel

A new consumer study has found that 73% of respondents who owned a HDTV were satisfied with their current standard DVD player and felt no need to replace it with a high-definition player.

The report, compiled by Port Washington, N.Y.-based The NPD Group, found that 52% of HDTV owners were aware of Blu-ray and HD DVD but only 11% expressed a strong desire to buy a HD player in the next six months.

About 62% said they would wait for a price reduction before making a change, if at all.

The study, conducted June 18 to 28, included 5,500 adults, including 542 owners of high-def packaged media players.

When breaking down the data, The NPD Group found that among respondents, 29% were aware of HD DVD, compared to 20% for Blu-ray. Those who purchased Blu-ray did so because of a perceived technological advantage, while those who purchased HD DVD did so primarily based on price.

“The format war continues to be a primary operative issue when it comes to determining the long-term viability for high-definition technology,” said Ross Rubin, director, industry analysis, consumer electronics. “As HDTV penetration continues to grow, manufacturers and studios will need to do a better job imparting the benefits of these formats to a consumer base that still reports a high satisfaction with the current DVD standard.”

Indeed, nearly 20% of respondents said they had learned about HD packaged media through a family member or friend. About 40% of Blu-ray and 42% HD DVD respondents said they had become aware of the formats through TV advertising.

Rubin said failure by studios and retailers to educate the consumer would result in failure for both sides of the format war.

“The clock is ticking as every major digital lifestyle stakeholder is blazing a direct path to the living room,” Rubin said.

Scarcity of Content

NPD's research concluded that a lack of available content in HD had contributed to 64% of respondents with either a Blu-ray or HD DVD player purchasing standard-definition DVDs.

Russ Crupnick, VP and senior entertainment industry analyst, said the relative lack of new HD packaged media was hampering positive word-of-mouth from early adopters. He said the industry should take that as an opportunity.

The report found that 23% of early adopters plan to upgrade their standard DVD collections to HD. About 63% said they plan to buy upcoming new releases in HD, compared to 37% who will continue to buy standard DVD new releases.

“Once consumers become convinced of the superiority of high-def, and find a way to navigate the format issues, there will be a great deal of pent-up demand for HD DVD or Blu-ray content,” Crupnick said.

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