High resolution television fro example may cost anywhere from $6,000 to $10,000, though the primary marketing strategy with regard to price is to emphasize that with time price will decrease (Brown-Kenyon, et. al, 20000).
Japanese HDTV which is now more than 10 years old has still failed however largely due to price limitations from consumers (Brown-Kenyon, et. al, 2000).
Heavy emphasis has been put on the select benefits having HDTV would do for sports broadcasting which is vastly popular throughout many regions of the world, and cable and satellite companies are targeted because they can make high definition broadcasts of special sporting events to those willing to pay for them (Brown-Kenyon, et. al, 2000).
There is also a push to promote HDTV as film like image quality that would promote 'outdated' modes of delivery from traditional cable services. The major push is bringing a virtual home theater system into consumer households, which for many avid TV enthusiasts might be enough to generate sufficient interest.
Challenges of Marketing HDTV in America
American consumers are slow to adopt new technology. Only 1% of households adopted color television in the first five years it was introduced, and only 8% had adopted it 8 years later (Brown-Kenyon, et. al, 2000). It took a full 20 years for color television to be adopted fully. HDTV also seems expensive for low income and even middle income households, as was color television when it was first introduced, part of the reason it was slow to catch on (Brown-Kenyon, et al., 2000).
Adoption of HDTV in American where for the most part most consumers are satisfied with the quality of television they obtain from mid-level television systems is particularly difficult. In addition, within the states HDTV proponents have little to no backing from broadcasters and networks that are slow to adopt HDTV systems and programming due to the perceived cost to benefit ratio. It would literally take these agents' years to re-coup the expenses they put out from their initial investments.
Most middle class homes fail to see the significant benefit of owning an HDTV system vs. A traditional set as well, due in large part to a failure of marketing campaigns to adequately educate the consumer about the benefits of HDTV (Brown-Kenyon, et. al, 2000).
Failure of HDTV in America
Preliminary studies suggest that the cost to benefit ratio for most households simply doesn't make sense when it comes to HDTV. 20 to 30% of U.S. consumers have admitted that they will stick with traditional sets even if HDTV sets were more widely available because it isn't clear to them what the benefits are of paying so much more for minimal changes (Brown-Kenyon, 2000). Broadcasters are also not able to subsequently justify the cost expense of obtaining the new equipment for HDTV, because unlike color television and other dramatically different new introductions, they don't see the revenues picking up substantially as a result of their adopting HDTV technology. The services look interesting but aren't compelling enough yet to hook both viewers and broadcasters.
The content of HDTV also has some drawbacks including the fact that everything on the screen is rendered very lifelike, which is usually beneficial for certain programming such as sports or wildlife shows but may be "ghastly for news programs and soap operas" for consumers using cheaper sets (Brown-Kenyon, et. al, 2000, p. 71). TV sets currently being used in most homes would also have to modify wide-screen images causing a distortion or loss of some of the picture; a single HDTV channel also takes up much more space than a traditional one, as much as six to ten standard definition channels, so HDTV would use up "all of the capacity gains conferred by digitization" (Brown-Kenyon, et. al, 2000, p. 71). Yet another reason consumers and broadcasters re less willing to adopt HDTV technology.
Marketing HDTV UK / Europe
Momentum for HDTV is building in the UK and throughout Europe, despite heavy protestations from American consumers; broadcasters in Europe have recently announced "definite deployment plans" now that the 2004-year is approaching (Datamonitor, 2004). Research forecasts suggest that 4.6 million consumers in Europe will be using HDTV by the year 2008 (Datamonitor, 2004). This is an increase from the 50,000 consumers that were using HDTV by December of 2003 in Europe (Datamonitor, 2004).
The UK and France are...
European consumers are being told they will benefit from improved picture clarity and movie like quality surround sound (Datamonitor, 2004).
In addition, televisions in Europe currently display 576 lines, but HDTV will improve line count and subsequent picture quality to between 720 and 1080 "depending on the standards selected by the broadcaster" (Datamonitor, 2004).
Research suggests that Germany, the UK and France will lead the HDTV trend in Europe, though it is still a relatively rare phenomena throughout Europe, and researchers do predict that it may take a good 20 years for HDTV to be fully implemented despite a massive marketing campaign (Datamonitor, 2004).
Part of the trouble a marketing campaign will have in Europe is the confusion over how to use competing technologies, and the possibility that consumers will purchase televisions that are expensive but not actually HDTV ready (Datamonitor, 2004).
Overcoming this will require consumer education not just in Europe but also within the United States, where technology upgrades will also be essential for complete HDTV adoption.
Though HDTV does have some benefits to offer the mass marketplace, there are still many obstacles HDTV manufacturers and promoters have to face in upcoming years. Governments in the United States are particularly slow in adopting legislation that will help promote more widespread adoption of HDTV technology. Marketing tactics aimed at promoting the benefits of better quality picture and sound have largely failed, in part because they have not adequately satisfied consumers cost to benefit ratio analysis.
Most consumers still view HDTV as something far too expensive to justify the expenditure. Though the price of HDTV will eventually fall, this is not likely to occur for decades given the history of introduction of similar technologies such as the color television.
Studies do suggest that within Europe the market for HDTV might be much higher, but there is not adequate evidence as yet to determine whether this is largely hype on the part of HDTV proponents or based on actual consumer interest.
For marketing strategists to be successful they will have to focus part of their energies on educating consumers about the real benefits of HDTV. HDTV is not as break though technology as the color television was, where consumers can see an obvious benefit from purchasing a more expensive premium set. It will be up to the manufacturers to sell consumers on the product. Once consumers are sold, broadcasting agents are more likely to be willing to adopt the technology because they will be able to see an increase in net revenues over time.
Still, a change in attitudes is likely to be long in coming. There are still decided disadvantages of owning and HDTV system. As mentioned, increasing the realistic nature of television programming can be beneficial for sporting events and other 'realistic' programming. However HDTV can make some television broadcasts look too harsh or severe, including newscasts. Relative to the introduction of color television, the cost of HDTV still far outweighs the cost of most new technologies, and most middle American homes in particularly are less likely to invest $6,000 or more on an entertainment system.
Perhaps HDTV will face a more welcoming market in a few years, when the technology is more advanced to offer more technologically oriented benefits to broadcasters and consumers. At this time the only thing that is certain about HDTV is that its future is uncertain at best. Marketers would do best to continue their selling and marketing campaigns in Europe, particularly in Germany, the UK and in France where the demand for HDTV at this point in time seems to be the greatest.
Proponents of HDTV have a challenging job facing them if they truly want to see HDTV widely adopted in all nations, particularly within the United States. They may have a less challenging time implementing HDTV more universally abroad in the European market. Perhaps if they succeed in mass implementation in Europe the United States will be more likely to follow in their footsteps.
As mentioned in the research work, the primary challenge they will face is educating consumers not only about the benefits of HDTV, but also about the technology itself. Most consumers do not understand specifically how HDTV will benefit them, much less what they need to do to get…
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