A few nuggets of information revealed as part of a study last month by NPD DisplaySearch may shed a bit more light on the urgency with which the Advanced Television Systems Committee, TV broadcasters, NAB and others interested in the future of television broadcasting are proceeding on a next-generation standard for TV.
The findings come from the researcher’s 2014 Global TV Replacement Study, an in-depth examination of TV replacement trends in more than a dozen countries, including the United States. The study looks at things like why people replace their televisions, the type of replacement set they plan to purchase and the impact of various features on their decisions.
One of the key findings reveals the average age of televisions in U.S. households in 2014 was a little more than five years old, about the same age as in the previous two years. Another is the average TV replacement cycle in mature markets, such as the United States, is eight years.
Based on those two findings, it seems reasonable to conclude that on average U.S. households will give their existing TVs about three more years before they begin feeling the urge to replace them with something new.
Perhaps most importantly, the study finds that the top two factors driving replacement in mature markets are picture quality and sound quality.
Wrap those three findings together and it appears many U.S. households should be receptive to replacing their existing sets with 4K Ultra-HD versions, presumably the heir apparent to conventional 720p, 1080i and 1080p HDTV, within a few short years.
While the work on ATSC 3.0 and how it supports reception of mobile TV has received a lot of attention lately, the NPD DisplaySearch study suggests ATSC’s ongoing work related to support for 4K Ultra-HD is every bit as important to the future of television in the United States.
One red flag, however, is the impact of pricing on what motivates a consumer to decide to replace a TV. The study reveals that “the price of TVs becoming more affordable” ranked nearly as high as “sound quality,” the No. 2 motivator, on the list of top factors driving replacement decisions in mature markets.
That makes it critical for everyone pinning their hopes on a 4K future to find a way to educate consumers about how 4K Ultra-HD improves picture quality if it is to succeed in moving consumers to pull the trigger on a replacement based on a better picture, says Riddhi Patel, research director of consumer insights at NPD DisplaySearch.
Perhaps TV station groups, television networks and individual stations will find a more effective way to educate consumers about the benefits of 4K Ultra-HD –if it ultimately is a part of their future– than they did in informing the public about the improved picture and sound quality of digital HDTV over NTSC.