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Study: Mainstream HDTV Buyers Opt for HD DVD

11 Dec, 2007 By: Erik Gruenwedel

A new study says 43% of shoppers looking to buy a high-def DVD player are leaning toward HD DVD, compared to 27% for Blu-ray. The remaining 30% are undecided. The study claims price — not technology — is the determining factor for post-early adopters of high-def packaged media.

Dallas-based research firm The Diffusion Group based the results on separate surveys of 1,500 and 2,000 U.S. adult Internet users conducted in October and November.

The report found that 33% of non-HDTV households are interested in purchasing an HDTV in the next six months, and unlike current HDTV owners, tend to be younger, single, more ethnically diverse and have lower annual household incomes.

“The strength of this preference and its correlation to mainstream attributes are notable,” said Michael Greeson, president and principal analyst with TDG. “The next wave of buyers is comprised of early mass-market consumers, a much larger segment with a focus on practical consideration such as price.”

Greeson said the format that can best address the needs of the mainstream consumers would emerge victorious in the format war.

Andy Parsons, SVP, industrial solutions business group, Pioneer Electronics and marketing director of the Blu-ray Disc Association, said any format attempting to attract mainstream consumers without offering content from The Walt Disney Co. and other major studios won't be successful.

“If you are going to throw [the term] mass market around, you can't do that and ignore brands like Disney and [20th Century] Fox,” Parsons said.

Disney, Fox, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Lionsgate release HD content exclusively in Blu-ray. Universal Studios Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Entertainment release content only in HD DVD. Warner Home Video and New Line Home Entertainment release content in both formats.

Parsons said sales of HD DVD content didn't mirror the surge in sales of Toshiba's HD-A2 last month when several national retailers offered the player for $98. He believes many of those units predominantly play standard DVD.

With the price difference between the players decreasing, Parsons said the Samsung BD-P400 at $299 is similarly priced to the Toshiba HD-A3.

“From what we can see [mainstream pricing] is not working too well [for HD DVD] so far,” Parsons said. “It still comes down to content availability and content pricing. You can't have cheap players without cheap content.”

Andy Tarczon, founding partner of TDG, said the studies were independent and that they didn't attempt to take sides. He said the fact 30% of respondents were undecided represented a swing vote in the format war.

“We're not declaring a winner,” Tarczon said. “We're saying the battle is not over.”

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