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Though nearly half of US consumers now own a high definition TV (HDTV), just one in ten (11%) say they own an HD DVD player and 7% own a Blu-ray player, according to (pdf) a recent poll by Harris Interactive.

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The poll found that the number of Blu-ray owners is not likely to jump anytime soon because of price and stiff competition from other HD technologies.

Although Blu-ray was declared by media and industry analysts to be the big “winner” in the high def format war last year, Americans are still not rushing out to buy a player. An overwhelming majority (93%) of non Blu-ray owners say they are somewhat or not? at all likely to buy a Blu-ray device, leaving only 7% likely to purchase a Blu-ray player within the next year. This is down from 9% in May 2008, Harris found.

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Some 83% of Americans currently own any type of DVD player.

Cable, Satellite, On-Demand Compete with Blu-ray

In addition to financial issues that may be slowing consumer adoption, Harris noted that Blu-ray faces stiff competition from alternative technologies such as cable, satellite, and the internet, which may be playing a big role in reluctance to buy.

“Consumers today can easily watch high definition TV channels or use the internet or video-on-demand to access high definition movies,” said Milton Ellis, VP and senior consultant, Harris Interactive Technology, Media, and Telecom Practice.”In the near future, access to high definition movies may be a download or streaming delivery of one’s favorite movies to a home media server that eliminates the need for a Blu-ray player and Blu-ray disc,” he added.

Ownership Slightly Up

The study did find that ownership of all HD disc players is up slightly from May 2008:

  • Sales of HD DVD players (11% in 2009 vs. 6% in 2008) are up over 2008 by about the same margin as Blu-ray players (7% in 2009 vs. 4% in 2008).
  • Both are rivaled by the Sony PLAYSTATION?3 (9% vs. 5%).
  • Only 3% of consumers purchased the external HD DVD drive for the Xbox? 360, up from 1% in 2008.

Ownership of HDTVs

On the other hand, the 47% of consumers who own an HDTV represent a significant increase from May 2008, when only 35% of respondents reported owning one.

HDTV ownership rises dramatically with household income (27% for those with less than $35K vs. 62% among those with more than $75K), the study found.

HD Discs Generate Interest

On average, consumers purchased approximately six Standard Format DVDs in the last six months, compared with one in HD format (HD DVD .7 vs. Blu-ray .5). However, plans to purchase Standard Format DVD’s is down by half compared with past six month purchases, while interest in HD DVD’s (.6) and Blu-ray (.7) are holding their own.

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Notably, HD DVD format purchases reflect the continued sales of the HD DVD players within the past year, Harris said. When Blu-ray player or PS3 owners are asked specifically about standard vs. Blu-ray format purchases, the results suggest a mixed bag of behaviors with some price sensitivity indicated:

  • Only one-fourth of Blu-ray/PS3 owners plan to switch to Blu-ray completely (25%), while one-third claim that most of their movie purchases are now on Blu-ray format (32%).
  • Two in five are waiting for Blu-ray format prices to come down before they buy more (43%) – though a quarter buy Blu-ray regardless of price (25%).
  • Only one in five appear to be replacing or duplicating their existing standard format DVD library with Blu-ray format (21%), and more than one-third say they only buy movies on Blu-ray format that they currently do not own on standard definition (37%).

About the survey: The survey gauged the opinions of 2,401 US adults online between April 13 and 21, 2009 and was conducted by Harris Interactive.

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