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CEA: DTV Set Sales Zooming

5/10/2006 7:44 AM Eastern

The HD set marketplace continues to heat up, with the Consumer Electronics Association reporting that sales of digital television sets grew dramatically during the first quarter of 2006.

According to new figures released by CEA, the industry sold 3.4 million DTV units during the first quarter of 2006, a 101% increase in unit sales over the same time last year, and the equivalent to $3.6 billion in dollar sales. Unit sales of flat panel displays also rose dramatically during the first quarter with a 201% jump, bringing to life the findings of a recent CEA survey which showed that 49% of consumers say their next television purchase will be some type of flat panel technology. (A digital TV may not be an HD set, but most of them are.)

“More than 35 million DTV units now have now been sold since market introduction in 1998,” said Shapiro in his keynote at Professional Audio Video Retailers’ Assocation meeting in Hilton Head, N.C. on May 8. “These figures demonstrate that consumers continue to embrace this exciting new technology as we move apace to the end of analog broadcasting.”

It also demonstrates that consumers are reacting to lower prices and the ever-increasing number of buying options. According to research firm Current Analysis, the average street price for plasma TVs declined another 9% in April, to $3,309. In the 50W-inch category, a 5% overall price drop reduced the average selling price $213 from March, to $3,704.

And more models are also making it hard for consumers to say no. Steve Kovsky, Current Analysis DTV industry senior analyst, says nine new plasma TV models entered the channel in April (with Panasonic and LG each rolling out three). And in the LCD market more than 30 new models were shipped in April, with Sharp, Sony, Samsung and Westinghouse Digital each launching five new models in the period while LG and Panasonic both introduced two new models.

In fact, says Kovsky, flat-panel displays are taking over the HD market as only two new rear-projection TV models appeared on selling floors in April.

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