According to findings of a recent consumer study conducted by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and eBrain Market Research, a vast majority of consumers are aware of digital video recorders (DVRs) and say they like the product features. Just over three-quarters (76 percent) of consumers stated they were familiar with the term DVR. A nearly equal percentage (72 percent) was very or somewhat interested in owning a DVR.
DVRs use an internal hard drive -- not a tape or disc -- to record television programming. Special features allow consumers to select, record and view programming at will and without interruption. In addition, DVRs allow viewers to pause, see instant replays, rewind, and fast-forward while watching a television program in real time. Study results indicated consumers are most familiar with DVR brand names: TiVo, Replay TV, Ultimate TV, and AOLTV.
Two features of DVR technology that most appealed to consumers were the ability to skip commercials (81 percent) and to watch a TV show anytime regardless of normal air time (76 percent). However, despite significant interest in DVRs among consumers, simple logistics seem to be hampering growth in sales.
"Somewhere, somehow the complete message is not getting out to consumers about retail options, the ease of set-up, or more importantly, just how different a DVR is from a VCR," said Sean Wargo, senior industry analyst for CEA. "Forty-three percent of survey respondents say the VCR satisfies all their recording needs, yet a majority (73 percent) are very or somewhat interested in being able to record TV shows without the need of a tape cassette."
Several surprising obstacles seem to be holding consumers back from making the purchase. Based on survey results, the primary reason for not having bought a DVR was not having a phone jack near the TV set (59 percent). Other reasons included: "Don't know where to buy one" (43 percent) and "wouldn't know how to set it up" (43 percent). Interestingly, only a small portion of those surveyed (8 percent) felt the cost was too high. In addition, more than three-quarters (78 percent) said that they would pay more for the DVR unit if it eliminated monthly fees.
Mr. Wargo added, "Only around one percent of U.S. households currently own a DVR, not including those offered by cable operators. To date, manufacturers have shipped approximately 855,000 DVR units to retailers since their introduction to the market in 1998.
"The potential market is amazing, and this study tells us that both manufacturers and retailers need to do a better job of informing consumers about DVR availability and ease of use."
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