Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Half of U.S. Consumers Now Have Digital TVs

If you have cable or satellite TV and watch any U.S. channels, you've likely seen those commercials urging customers to switch their old analog TVs to digital. The approx. one-minute commercial explains that that the Federal Communications Commission will stop all analog broadcasts by February 2009, and that as of that date, analog TVs will no longer work. Last week, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) noted that Americans are well on their way to this transition, with more than half of the population having made the switch to digital. The fact that mammoth retailer Best Buy stopped offering analog TVs in the U.S. in October 2007 might also have helped make the transition easier.

It's important to note that the 50% penetration of digital TVs shouldn't be confused with high-definition TV, for which penetration is likely lower. I'm not sure of the exact U.S. figures, to date but the Consumer Electronics Marketers of Canada (CEMC) projected in August 2007 that, by the end of the year, almost 48% of Canadian consumers would own an HD-capable TV.

However, as many studies and reports have noted over the past year or so, even consumers who own an HDTV-capable TV don't necessarily view high-definition programming, nor have the necessary cable or satellite TV equipment to make this possible.

With the increasingly attractive prices of flat-panel TVs today, it would make sense for customers to use those extra bucks saved on the TV itself to invest in a high-definition set-top box and channel package. If you're going to upgrade, go big, right? It looks like many U.S. consumers agree, as the CEA estimates that 79% of all digital TVs shipped in 2008 (in the U.S.)will boast high-definition resolution.

Hopefully as customers begin asking questions about digital TV, they'll also receive answers on how to fully enjoy the high-definition experience. If you aren't sure how to go about getting digital TV, take a peek at this "uninformed customer's guide" from a previous blog entry.

It's also worth noting that, the CRTC in Canada has not made a similar mandate for the transition to digital TV, and a spokesperson for Best Buy Canada told me back in October that the retailer would continue to sell analog products "as long as there is a demand for them".

Even my 60+ year-old parents have upgraded to flat-panel; and with third-tier digital TVs available at sub-$500 price points these days, it's likely that anyone upgrading at this point will opt for digital anyway.


W said...

The CRTC has announced a transition date to Digital television -- see

"Notably, the Commission has decided to:
establish August 31, 2011, as the date by which television licensees will only broadcast digital signals; "

W said...

The CRTC *has* announced a cut-off date for analog broadcasting in Canada: (see )

"Notably, the Commission has decided to:

... establish August 31, 2011, as the date by which television licensees will only broadcast digital signals;