Why aren't HDTVs selling very fast?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jeff_N, Feb 6, 2001.

  1. Jeff_N

    Jeff_N Agent

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    I have an answer right here, and it's nothing too earth-shattering (or surprising) to me.
    When I recently went into a Circuit City, ABC Warehouse, and Best Buy (the only places to get HDTVs here in Jackson, Michigan) the salespeople had no idea what HDTV was. Here are some examples of what they actually told me:
    "We don't have any HDTVs." - And there was a 53HS10 right next to us. (And a Hitachi)
    "You can't receive HDTV OTA signals in Jackson." - One week after CBS (and the superbowl) went live on HDTV only 25 miles away.
    "We have digital TVs, and they do the same thing as HDTVs."
    "You can only get HD programs off of satelite, and the signals aren't available in Jackson." - DUH!!
    "The RCA DTC-100 does not let you receive OTA signals."
    Circuit City's employees didn't even know what component video cables were. (And they carried them.) I sent my wife to get them, and they tried to sell her the composite video cables. "See, they have three plugs." You would think that if you carried $70 cables, you would know what they were for!
    I asked a manager about why their employees weren't trained on HDTVs, and he said that not many people are buying them right now, so the franchise has not provided any training. Well, seeing as I wanted to buy one, and no one could help me, I can see how they are not selling many because I had to do my own research.
    This is just so frustrating. I need to move to the big city. Are things better there??
     
  2. Mike I

    Mike I Supporting Actor

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    Show the manager this artical
    DIGITAL TELEVISION SALES PICKING UP MOMENTUM
    By Dawn C. Chmielewski
    San Jose Mercury News
    February 5, 2001
    The future of digital TV--often maligned as being overhyped and too expensive--is beginning to come into clear focus.
    Digital televisions, which deliver ultrasharp pictures and CD quality sound, are gaining retail momentum, with sales up fivefold since Panasonic unveiled the first high-definition set in Los Angeles in August 1998. The industry expects sales to exceed 1 million sets this year.
    Some analysts predict it will catch on more rapidly than color television, which took 13 years to replace black-and-white sets in most American homes.
    "There's a slow tide that's rising," said Richard Doherty, entertainment analyst for the Envisioneering Group in Seaford, N.Y. "Since you now have one in seven American households with DVD, people start getting used to the quality. And they wonder, `Can my TV get better?' DVD has been a slow elevator. It's been greasing the rails for HDTV."
    Digital TV remains far from a mass-market phenomenon. The consumer electronics industry estimates 625,000 digital monitors were sold to dealers last year. That brings the number of sets sold in America to 760,000--less than 1 percent of U.S. households.
    But signs suggest consumers are tuning in to digital TV. High-end audio and video retailers are devoting at least half their inventory and sales space to digital sets, according to NPD Intelect, a market tracking firm in Port Washington, N.Y.
    Big-name manufacturers such as RCA, Mitsubishi, Toshiba and Pioneer say they are increasing production to keep pace with demand.
    "We can't keep it in the barn," said Bob Perry, marketing director for Mitsubishi Digital Electronics, the nation's leading manufacturer of big-screen TVs. "We have been selling at record pace. As we ratchet up production, consumer demand ratchets up even further."
    What's changed?
    Prices, while still expensive, are dropping from what the rich can afford to what homeowners might expect to pay for a big-screen TV. Perry said the typical high-end projection TV goes for around $3,000. Panasonic plans to introduce the first wide-screen, high-definition monitor selling for less than $2,000 later this year.
    "The manufacturers are making an effort to get the costs down," said Michelle Abraham, a converging-markets analyst for Cahner's In-Stat Group in Phoenix.
    But sales will remain limited until viewers find a wealth of programming, Abraham said.
    Broadcasters bristle at the suggestion that they're not providing enough content. The National Association of Broadcasters said 173 stations now beam digital signals in 61 cities on the way to reaching the entire country by the congressionally mandated deadline of December 2006.
    Of course, you'll need a digital TV set, a tuner and an antenna or satellite dish. Even then, programming in the lush, nearly three-dimensional high-definition TV format is paltry. But it's coming. CBS broadcasts its entire prime-time lineup in high definition (except "Walker, Texas Ranger"). And showcase sporting events such as the U.S. Open and the Masters golf tournament will be beamed in HDTV.
    Industry observers say the transition to digital TV is inevitable. Even skeptics like Mark Snowden, a media and entertainment analyst for the Gartner Group, who describes digital TV as "stillborn at this point," say it will eventually happen--certainly by 2006.
    That's because the federal government plans to auction off the analog spectrum in 2006, once stations convert to digital transmission. The sale could reap as much as $70 billion for the government.
    "That $70 billion is part of budget forecasting," Snowden said. "If that doesn't pan out, that's a big hole in all these rosy budget forecasts. So it shifts the potential for budget surplus to a deficit. That, in turn, could cascade into any number of political issues."
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  3. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

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    It all depends on the city and the store. Home Theater Store in Dallas sold the first HDTV in this area (it made the news a couple of years ago) and I would venture a guess that a large part of their sales are HD-ready sets. But televisions are their specialty. They know their stuff. And they don't dilute their salesmen's knowledge with crap like Circus City sells.
    Apart from salesman training, I think there are a couple of other issues hampering early-adopter sales:
    1) Lack of programming...two cable movie channels, PPV, CBS prime time with the occasional sporting event, and a smattering of movies and shows on the other channels don't cut it. It's great to have, yes, but we want more!
    2) Uncertainty about copy protection schemes that might obsolete the purchase...it's the DIVX mentality. DIVX hurt DVD sales initially by adding another variable to the purchase decision.
    IMO...
    - Steve
     
  4. Kwang Suh

    Kwang Suh Supporting Actor

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    There's also the fact that people simply believe that TV can't get any better than what they're seeing now. Everytime I bring a person over to see an anamorphic DVD on my 16:9 with a prog-scan player, they are blown away. Their eyes simply can't believe it. We need to tell people that what they're seeing is hardly high-end.
     
  5. Steve Owen

    Steve Owen Second Unit

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    I can't speak for ABC Warehouse, but lack of credible information from the sales staffs of Circuit City and Best Buy should surprise no one. From my personal experience and from reading information posted by others, the problem appears to be location independent.
    If you want good information, your best bet is to a) keep reading boards like this one and don't rely on chain store sales staffs one iota, and/or b) seek out a higher-end A/V store.
    -Steve
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    [​IMG] Home Theater Gear
     
  6. Larry Schneider

    Larry Schneider Second Unit

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    There's nothing to watch that interests me. The local PBS station is not broadcasting HDTV. College basketball is not HDTV. College football isn't HDTV. Movies in HDTV would be nice, but only if they're recordable.
     
  7. Rino van Dam

    Rino van Dam Auditioning

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    Things have certainly changed over here:
    Just a few months ago, the local HiFi Buys had a lot of big analog screens in the front of the store, and a few (3 or so) HDTV's in the back.
    Now, the situation is reversed, with the front of the store taken up by (mostly widescreen) RPTV HDTV sets, and the old (analog) 4:3 sets in the back.
    I find there's a lot of HDTV that I find worth watching. My two favorite shows (NYPD Blue and CSI) are both broadcast in HiDef, and the Playoffs and Superbowl weren't too bad either.
    I also notice a lot of interest from people at work, neighbors etc. (especially after hosting the playoff/superbowl parties). Judging from these J6P's, HDTV's are nearing the price point at which they will start selling to a much broader audience.
    The situation reminds me a lot of 1998, when DVD players had just appeared on the market. Who would have thought back then (with DIVX rearing its ugly head), that DVD would be very much mainstream in 2000/2001?
    HDTV is here to stay, and if the popularity picks up in 2001, that's good for all of us HT nuts, because the broader the installed base of HDTV, the harder it will be to introduce a copy-protection scheme that makes the installed base obsolete.
    Rino
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    Rino
     
  8. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    I own a 16x9 HD-ready set, and I am having a hard time justifying the purchase of an HD tuner. As Larry stated, there just is not enough quality hi-def programming out there that interests me. Crappy programming with a great picture is like a turd with a pretty ribbon tied on. It's still crap underneath.
    It's difficult to justify $600 - $800 for a tuner just to watch The Masters and NCAA basketball tournament (I already missed the Super Bowl). I will not watch movies on commercial television due to editing and commercial interruption, CBS's prime time lineup holds zero interest for me, and I do not stay up late enough to watch Jay Leno.
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    My DVD Collection
    AFI 100 Films to watch: 40 -> 18
     
  9. Robert D Davis

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    Can you still watch 480p material (like from a progressive scan DVD player) on an HDTV-ready set (oops, I mean monitor- which I now think is the "official" term here) without an HDTV tuner? If so, I might buy an HDTV set soon.
    Robert
     
  10. Wolf Jenkins

    Wolf Jenkins Stunt Coordinator

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  11. Rich Kraus

    Rich Kraus Stunt Coordinator

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    Can you still watch 480p material (like from a progressive scan DVD player) on an HDTV-ready set (oops, I mean monitor- which I now think is the "official" term here) without an HDTV tuner? If so, I might buy an HDTV set soon.
    Robert
    robert,
    yes in a big way. it looks fantastic. the hd tuner is just required for hd material.
    although WE know the benifits of the HDTV format, we should beg the big chains to at least cary and understand HD. the vast majority of folks that visit their stores will otherwise never step foot into a "high end" store. they may never seel that many (uh, how much did you say that tv cost?) , but if for no other reason than public awareness they should have the product and the information.
    the other wrinkle to this is, they need to have their hd sets connected as to best show them off, not just fed by the butchered store wide composite feed.
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    'Till next time,
    Rich (the kite guy)
     
  12. Wolf Jenkins

    Wolf Jenkins Stunt Coordinator

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  13. Steve Tannehill

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  14. Larry Schneider

    Larry Schneider Second Unit

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    I've had a 16x9 HDTV set for nearly 18 months. All material, DirecTV, DVD, LD, VHS is converted by the set to 480 by the set's line doubler. As long as the source material is halfway decent the picture is great.
     
  15. Woody

    Woody Auditioning

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    There are a number of reasons for the slow sales pace, not the least of which is the fact that just about everybody (even those in the industry) constantly talk about the astronomically high prices on the sets. The simple truth of the matter is that prices are NOT high at all, lest the constant saying so makes them seem to be. I've been involved in the TV biz since it's inception (1948) and have made an intense study of the industry, including the pricing patterns of sets. Based upon all of the reaearch that I've done, I can state as incontrovertible fact that -
    TV SETS TODAY ARE THE BIGGEST BARGAINS IN THE HISTORY OF THE PLANET! And that includes HDTV sets as well!
    Also contributing to the slow sales are:
    1. The lack of informed salespeople "in the trenches".
    2. The failure of the broadcasters to promote (or even mention) the fact that they have a digital channel on the air and transmitting.
    3. The lack of programming availability.
    4. The vast amount of misinformation constantly being put forth by well-intentioned, but sadly misinformed journalists and other media.
    5. The ridiculous paranoia by the movie industry over "piracy" concerns.
    Add all of this together and it's no mystery - is it?
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    woodman
     
  16. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    Throw in another monkey wrench into the works:
    THE MPAA.
    They want total control over the content going through HDTV signals (not just movies, but the Hollywood produced TV shows), and also whether you can copy it or even watch it at all.
    The alphabet soup is growing and growing: 5C, DFAST, HDCP, etc. copy and viewing restriction codecs; DVI and FireWire IEEE interfaces, etc., etc.
    Once the word spreads that practically 99% of current and past HDTV capable monitors, RPTV's, and FPTV's are not compatible with the encyption standards or digital interfaces the MPAA (and now many broadcasters and manufacturers under pressure from Hollywood) is secretly demanding, and that this will make their purchases very expensive standard 480i TV's (analog video connections will either be shut off completely on certain programming with an upstream code or limited to the resolution level we've had for the past 60 years), the brakes will be screeching and the HDTV rollout will grind to a hault (or peeter out).
    People will be (and are) confused and angry with this technology and the horrid turn of events, and when they get this way... most of them won't buy into it.
    In fact, this is probably what the MPAA wanted in the first place-- the total destruction of digital HDTV viewing in the home since it spells a threat to their ticket sales (already starting to dwindle due to the high cost of these same tickets and the increasing popularity of home theater), just like the advent of TV in the late 40's and 50's.
    Dan
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    Boycott JVC, 5C, DVI/HDCP, DFAST, and stop the MPAA!! Call Or Write The FCC And Your State and Federal Representatives To Protect Quality HDTV And Other HD Media, And Your Constitutional Rights!
     
  17. Thomas Newton

    Thomas Newton Screenwriter

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    1. High prices. A 4:3 CRT-based HDTV-ready set with a 32" picture costs $1800 to $2000. A 16:9 CRT-based HDTV-ready set with a 34" picture costs $4000. Regular 32" TV sets are available for as little as $500 to $600, with some 27" TV sets down in the $250 range.
    2. Copy protection. This is an insult to all TV customers and will interfere with well-established Fair Use rights.
    3. Lack of HDTV programming and HDTV-over-cable.
    4. The alleged proposal to deprive owners of analog HDTV-ready sets of HDTV-quality signals (or perhaps of any signals), because these sets are not "secure" enough AGAINST their owners.
     
  18. VicRuiz

    VicRuiz Second Unit

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  19. DavidDisney

    DavidDisney Auditioning

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    Actually, the number one reason for me is the transport issue. HDTV over cable is one of the major keys to getting HDTV acceptance by the general public IMO.
     
  20. Mike O

    Mike O Auditioning

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    What is the immediate future of HDTV over Cable? Anyone know any good rumors? Or facts?
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