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The CEA has finally released new ATSC receiver sales to dealers figures and they show considerable growth over last year. The press release is here . It says:


"CEA reported that first quarter 2003 sales of stand-alone set-top box units totaled 49,929 units and some $23.27 million in revenue, which represents a 162 percent unit increase and 147 percent revenue increase compared to the first quarter of 2002. The cumulative DTV set-top box sales figure - sales from 1999 through March 2003 - now has reached 348,019 units. That brings ATSC-receiving products, including both integrated sets and stand-alone set-top boxes, to 633,897 units."
 

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If they were all in our DMA, that would be 79% penetration :) .
(Assuming they all left the dealers warehouses............)
 

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Egad, that is pathetic. Still.


Even if we add in all the people who have HD over cable, we gotta be talking well under 1 million HD households.


These people are clueless.


Mark
 

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Here are some brand new data points from TWC with respect to cable HD penetration vis a vis other digital services. SVOD looks to be a hit; HD is unfortunately bringing up the rear.

http://www.aoltimewarner.com/investo...1q/release.adp

http://www.cableworld.com/archive/ca...03042804.shtml

Code:
Code:
TIME WARNER CABLE NATIONAL DATA AS OF APRIL 2003

Total subs:                10,800,000
Total digital subs:         3,900,000 -- 36.0% penetration
SVOD subs:                    500,000 --  4.6% penetration
PVR subs:                     100,000 --  0.9% penetration
HD subs:                       65,000 --  0.6% penetration
EDIT: I fixed the table formatting to be easier to digest.
 

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Tuners have to be built into sets. UHF stations weren't commercially successful until the tuner issue was forced, neither will HD.
 

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Thanks for the data amillians. However, without understanding when things were intro'd, what they cost, how widely available they are, et al. it's hard to know what people really want vs. what they currently are taking.


I'm not saying people are chomping at the bit for HDTV, just that the lack of subs so far is not necessarily indicative of much.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Rich Peterson
The CEA has finally released new ATSC receiver sales to dealers figures and they show considerable growth over last year. ....... The cumulative DTV set-top box sales figure - sales from 1999 through March 2003 - now has reached 348,019 units. That brings ATSC-receiving products, including both integrated sets and stand-alone set-top boxes, to 633,897 units."
Do these numbers include DirecTV and Dish HD boxes that are also ATSC boxes? How many of those are there?
 

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Quote:
Do these numbers include DirecTV and Dish HD boxes that are also ATSC boxes? How many of those are there?
Yes.


DirecTV has 180,000+ HDTV subscribers (as per their recent FCC submission), so they obviously represent a significant portion of the active HDTV STB viewers--almost half those since 1999. DirecTV HDTV receivers began shipping in late 1999, so there are probably 200,000 to 300,000 OTA-only boxes or integrated STBS shipped, but I suspect many pre-1999 buyers have since upgraded to new, more capable, and more robust HDTV receivers.


Presumably, News Corp's acquisition of DirecTV will help to ensure certain levels of quality for OTA hardware and guide integration / implementation on future satellite receiver products. Certainly, that's what you would expect when Andrew Setos heading up their technology platform.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by rogo
However, without understanding when things were intro'd, what they cost, how widely available they are, et al. it's hard to know what people really want vs. what they currently are taking....I'm not saying people are chomping at the bit for HDTV, just that the lack of subs so far is not necessarily indicative of much.
Point well taken. Here's an updated "view of the world" of TWC (and others, great article) from CableWorld 4/7/03. I've updated the numbers to reflect what kind of coverage there is (in terms of market availability), what the cost delta is (save for SVOD and PVR/DVR, there really is none in terms of STB rental or programming package costs...all digital services require a minimum digital tier), etc.

http://www.cableworld.com/archive/ca...03040706.shtml


FWIW, HD has been available in most TWC markets longer than SVOD and PVR/DVR, so we can't explain away it's poor showing because of timing issues. I find it amusing that SVOD wasn't really available in earnest within TWC until about 4-5 months ago, that it costs more than any other digital service and yet it is clearly the most popular digital offering to date--I guess it goes to show that most people will jump for *more* content (i.e., SVOD access to standard definition HBO and Showtime movies) than for *better* content (i.e., HD versions of HBO and Showtime).
Code:
Code:
TIME WARNER CABLE NATIONAL DATA AS OF APRIL 2003

Sub Type        Subs  Coverage    Penetration  Extra Costs/Month
========  ==========  ==========  ===========  ===============================
All       10,800,000  34 markets       100.0%
Digital    3,900,000  34 markets        36.0%  $4.95-$5.25 STB 
SVOD         500,000  33 markets         4.6%  $4.95-$5.25 STB + $6.95 service
PVR/DVR      100,000  14 markets         0.9%  $4.95-$9.95 STB
HD            65,000  32 markets         0.6%  $4.95-$5.25 STB
Again, the CableWorld article gives a great "at a glance" view of each major cable operator's push to get their customers to move to digital services and how they plan their attack. Clearly, VOD/SVOD is the big gun, at least at this stage of the game, but it looks like some MSOs are starting to see the light with HD.
 

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Alex,


Remember, SVOD service is just provided by the digital cable STB. So those figures indicate that about 1/8 of the 3,900,000 subscribers with a digital cable box are using the service. Cable companies were deploying such SVOD-capable STBs well before SVOD service actually became available. Of course, not all digital cable boxes support VOD service, but the newer models being deployed in the last 12+ months do.


In contrast, the HD boxes are entirely separate from the standard digital cable STBS. HDTV is not an optional service you can get with just any digital cable STB. But even then, I guess there is some overlap, given that a few of the newer HDTV set-tops also claim to support VOD.


Cable companies have been much more aggressive with marketing of VOD service. How many calls do you think cable makes to current or potential customers asking whether they are interested in HD? I have yet to ever receive an unsolicited call, let alone a marketing brochure, from cable regarding HDTV. I guess that's not too surprising, given the limited HD currently available on most affiliates--on cable, you can get most of the locals in HD if you are lucky, plus HBO and Showtime. Most cable affiliates have yet to add Discovery, Hdnet, and ESPN-HD.
 

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bfdtv,


I'm well aware that HD requires an HD STB box--I've owned five of them myself since 1998 (three have been junked due to premature death). The fact remains, a TWC cable customer can get a SD STB for the same rental price as an HD STB, it's just as easy to sign up for HD service as it is for SVOD service (or PVR/DVR service), HD is available in almost every market they serve, and yet the penetration rate for HD is surprisingly low compared to other digital service options, and surprisingly low for the expected number of HD-capable displays in the 10,800,000 TWC households. Yes, HD has been poorly marketed by TWC, but so has their PVR/DVR service (which also requires getting a new STB, one that typically costs more per month), and even though it's only being pushed in half the markets as HD and it debuted later than HD, it's still is seeing nice penetration vis a vis HD.


Even five solid years into the "transition," HD-capable displays outnumber HD-capable STBs by a factor of better than 7:1...HD cable STB rentals don't even come close to making up for that discrepancy. To quote Mark, it's not just HD OTA penetration that is pathetic, it's HD penetration, period. Cable and satellite acceptance are really no better than OTA. That's a shame.


FWIW, Comcast in Atlanta is aggressively pushing HD.
 

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Alex, excellent stuff. And we are in resounding agreement overall.
 

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I look at the low numbers, and I can see several reasons (aside from lack of consumer interest) why the HD receiver sales numbers are so low.


The most obvious one is that whenever I see a flyer from a CE store in the Sunday paper, it has a couple of pages of HD ready sets prominently advertised -- and typically no tuners advertised at all, or perhaps one will be listed in the bottom corner of one page. The tuners are not displayed prominently in the stores, either -- and are often kept well away from the rest of the HD products. There is no explanation, either in advertising or in-store, of what these tuners will do, or why anyone would choose to spend the money to acquire one.


In short, the only people who will ever buy an HD receiver are folks who do the research themselves to determine why they'd want one, and then either search the corners of the store to find one or go the mail order route.


Broadcasters have also done very little to sell the value of their free OTA digital/high definition service.


I wonder how much better the STB sales would be if local broadcasters worked with Best Buy/Circuit City/Ultimate Electronics to market these boxes, with on-air mentions of the ability of viewers to receive a near-perfect picture for free by using one. In the stores, the boxes could be prominently displayed near the rows of HD-ready televisions -- with a placard noting that 15 channels are available off air for absolutely no cost, many of those channels featuring a picture quality far exceeding DVD. Perhaps underneath this placard could be brochures that would outline in a few pages what sort of programming is available on these channels, along with some information on how one would actually set up the STB to receive these channels.
 

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People are always shocked when I tell them that HD comes in free over the air. Everyone just assumes it's a cable TV or satellite service before I explain.
 
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