[opendtv] Analysis: Will HDTV Have a Tipping Point?

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: OpenDTV Mail List <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2004 05:53:01 -0400

Will HDTV Have a Tipping Point?
Sports is driving new sales, but like many new technologies, the 
growth of High-Definition TV will be slow but sure. By Phillip Swann

Washington, D.C. (July 15) -- In the early 1960s, NBC decided to 
broadcast its hit western, Bonanza, in color. The show was so popular 
that many Americans decided to finally dump their black and white 
sets so they could watch Hoss and Little Joe in the new format. Many 
TV historians believe NBC's decision was a "tipping point" in the 
growth of color television.

Today, High-Definition TVs are in less than 10 million homes and 
fewer than two million actually have the tuners required to receive 
high-def signals. Some industry officials have expressed hope that a 
single event such as a Super Bowl will once again persuade Americans 
to adopt a new TV technology. Despite dropping prices and the launch 
of new high-def networks, sales are not rising dramatically. The 
Consumer Electronics Association reports that 3-4 million Digital TVs 
may be sold in 2004, which is not bad but hardly indicative of a 
cultural phenomenon.

However, based on my analysis of market conditions, consumer 
attitudes and historical precedents, I do not believe that HDTV will 
ever have a "tipping point" comparable to Bonanza's impact on color 
TV. My analysis is that high-def will continue to grow, but at a slow 
and steady pace. The technology will pick up steam in the next two 
years thanks to those price drops and program additions (and its 
incredible picture, of course.) But it's unlikely that more than 20 
million homes will be watching HDTV by the year 2007. Future years 
will see more steady growth, but nothing that could be called 

Why do I say this? Why wouldn't HDTV have its own tipping point?

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