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U.S. Consumers Next TV Will be a Flat Panel

While only 17 percent of consumers currently own a flat panel display (FPD), 49 percent say their next television purchase will be some type of flat panel technology, according to research from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

CEA's study presents both opportunities and challenges for the consumer electronics industry as consumers upgrade from traditional tube sets to FPDs.

"Thin is in when it comes to TV's," said CEA Director of Industry Analysis Sean Wargo. "The current TV market is in the midst of a massive upgrade cycle. Flat panel shipments now comprise 36 percent of total revenues and growth is assured with FPD reaching 63 percent of revenues by 2009 - despite and because of continual price declines in this category. All of this growth brings the opportunity for attached purchases, such as mounts, cabling, universal remotes and even furniture. In fact, this may end up being more lucrative than set sales themselves and is a tremendous opportunity for retailers."

CEA estimates a total of $22 billion worth of TVs will ship to U.S. dealers in 2006, with shipments rising to nearly $30 billion by the close of the decade making it the single largest consumer electronics category. On average, current owners paid $783 for the primary TV in their home, but plan to spend $966 on their next set. Additionally, the average consumer plans to spend $176 on accessories, which suggests a total TV related accessories market of more than $5 billion during 2006.

The study found that about half of consumers are familiar with the term 'flat panel TV', but plasma is the most recognized flat panel technology. Additionally, many consumers were unsure what technology they currently own and the differences between the newer available technologies.

"It is likely many consumers use 'plasma' to describe the broader flat panel category and for other consumers perhaps flat is just flat regardless of the technology type," Wargo continued. "Confusion about TV terminology isn't unique to flat panel displays. A large portion of rear projection set owners aren't sure what type of projection technology they own and the term plasma is more recognizable to consumers than the venerable cathode ray tube or CRT set. LCD familiarity isn't far behind plasma, though, which is a testament to the growth this category has realized over the past year. In fact, LCD is the most owned type of FPD at 53 percent."

CEA also surveyed consumers about their desired activities using household TVs and found potential markets for up and coming technologies. While the traditional activities of watching movies and TV ranked the highest at 91 percent and 88 percent respectively, watching digital video recorder (DVR) content (54 percent) and viewing PC video (47 percent) followed next. Another 44 percent want to view digital photos on their TV and 29 percent want to listen to PC audio from the household TV.

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