UK HDTV prospects

Market research specialist GfK says that despite the tremors currently being felt across the whole consumer durables industry, there are still many manufacturers and retailers whose products can look forward to consistent growth. “The 2009 prognosis for the UK Consumer Electronics market is not as gloomy as some would have us believe,” says GfK.

Although total volume sales for the combined total of CE products have declined in recent months, it is difficult not to be thrilled by the array of products that will attract consumers in 2009. At the centre of the market, the Flat TV must be a fixture in more than half the nation's 26 million living rooms at the very least, with cumulative sales since launch already approaching 20 million. That still leaves at least 10 million to add.

In September 2008, 20% of all TVs sold were not just equipped with High Definition, (very few new TV sales aren’t), but also boasted 1080p Full HD according to GfK Retail and Technology figures. The turnover share was even more encouraging (35% and likely to finish 2008 nearer 50%).

The steep fall in the average price of Total Full HD TVs (from £1250 in September 2007 to only £920 a year later), has allowed increased prominence for extra large models in the 40” to 46” category with a small proportion being 50” and over, adds GfK.

“There is of course another dimension to the HD revolution. Of the products sold thus far, very few can actually receive genuine HD broadcasts – for example the Blu-ray family covers less than a quarter of the 13 million products sold so far.”

“An almost incidental benefit of the take up of HD sets is that the vast majority are also Digital TVs, ready to accompany the switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting which will gain new momentum when the densely populated cities of Liverpool and Manchester are switched over in 2009. As a result, sales of digital TVs are much higher than for Freeview set top boxes. So far so good, but there is a problem. When consumers switch they still need to retain the option of recording TV programmes. To date, sales of DVD Recorders with a digital tuner have only just reached two million. The Personal Video Recorder (PVR) is growing, but only in hundreds of thousands, not the millions required to replace the much loved VCR when analogue broadcasts are switched off.”