Tepid interest seen for next-gen DVDs in 2006

Survey of high-volume DVD users shows that about one in five may buy high-definition DVD players or discs in 2006.

A survey of high-volume DVD users by online DVD trading company Peerflix on Wednesday showed that about one in five may buy high-definition DVD players or discs in 2006.

Hollywood studios are counting on the new format, which boasts better quality images and more storage space for content, to renew demand for DVDs, which are more profitable than theatrical releases.

But Daniele Levy, Peerflix's vice president of marketing, said the results showed that significant adoption by hard-core users was at least a year off.

"We were quite surprised to see that a very small number of those die-hard DVD fans envisioned moving into the high-definition format this year," Levy said. "With all the talk and excitement around high-definition DVD they are still a long way away from moving into that format."

Tom Adams, chief executive of Adams Media Research, said the Peerflix numbers were in line with his firm's expectations for early technology adopters.

"If you did a random sample of the general population, it would be a fraction of that," Adams said on Wednesday. "These are heavy movie fans that certainly early on will get a player and they are not too concerned about the format war."

Adams predicted sales of 1 million to 2 million video game consoles that play high-definition discs, plus sales of about a half-million next-definition DVD players by the end of 2006.

Privately held Peerflix surveyed about 1,100 of its active users, who said they buy an average of five DVDs and rent an average of seven DVDs per month, about how likely they are to buy a Blu-Ray or HD-DVD player or discs.

The respondents were predominantly 25- to 44-year-old males with jobs, a wife and no children. Most had DVD collections of at least 50 discs and about a third also rented DVDs online.

Six percent of Peerflix said they were "very likely" and 13 percent were "somewhat likely" to buy a high-definition player in 2006.

Levy said the adoption of the new technology probably was hampered by the high price of players relative to standard DVD--the new ones cost about $500--and the competing versions between Sony's Blu-Ray format and Toshiba's HD DVD format.

Story Copyright © 2006 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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