CEA: DTV Product Sales

Digital television, the broadcast format, may still be in limbo, but digital television, the consumer electronics category, is going strong. Figures released November 2 by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) show 368,947 DTV displays were shipped from factories to dealers during the first nine months of 2000, nearly seven times the number of displays sold during the same period in 1999.

There were "significant spikes" in August sales (70,917) and in September (79,818). Sales for either of the two months exceeded those for the first nine months of 1999 (53,415). These figures include integrated DTV receivers as well as separate monitors that require the addition of a set-top box to receive digital broadcasts. A total of only 25,855 stand-alone set-top receivers have been sold to dealers since January 2000—a small fraction of the number of DTV monitors sold, and an indisputable indication that most buyers are using DVD as a source for their new displays. In 1999, only 17% of all DTV products sold were capable of receiving digital broadcasts—a trend that CEA officials expect to continue as broadcasters waffle about how they will use their digital bandwidth.

Consumer satisfaction with DTV products is excellent, according to a CEA survey. Ninety percent of respondents expressed complete satisfaction with the technology, but disappointment with available content (ie, lack of over-the-air programming). Awareness of DTV has grown among the general public in the past two years, the organization found. Retailers can look forward to a robust holiday season, typically the busiest time of the year for electronics outlets.

"These numbers and the results of our research demonstrate that the consumer DTV transition is thriving. Consumers are buying DTV products now, despite their concerns about limited broadcast programming," said CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro. "When you consider the long-term success of the technology, robust DTV sales and high consumer satisfaction are the indicators that matter." CEA Market Research predicts unit sales of DTV displays will reach 425,000 for the year 2000.