DTC: About 9M converter boxes still available

Mon, 01/19/2009 - 7:05am
Traci Patterson

Retailers and manufacturers have shipped an estimated 33.5 million digital-to-analog (DTA) converter boxes into the U.S. market – as of the end of the fourth quarter of 2008 – with approximately 9 million converter boxes still available for those consumers who have waited until the last minute, according to new research from Digital Tech Consulting.

“While Congress works out the last?minute issues surrounding the waiting list for government coupons, the NTIA program has resulted in sales of nearly 20 million coupon-eligible converter boxes,” said Myra Moore, a principal at Digital Tech Consulting. “And our research shows that as many as 4 million additional boxes have been sold to consumers without coupons.”

“With America’s major electronics retailers only carrying one or two models of converter boxes, we’ve been able to carefully monitor retail sell?through and accurately estimate not only the most popular converter boxes, but also the cumulative totals from the past year’s sales,” Moore continued. “As a result, we believe there is ample supply of nearly 9 million boxes in retail warehouses and store shelves ready for an onslaught of last?minute buyers.”

Relatively modest shipments of only 1.3 million converter boxes occurred in the first quarter of 2008. Shipment growth was 29 percent in the third quarter, and 54 percent in the fourth-quarter selling period, during which nearly 15 million converter boxes were shipped into distribution channels as broadcasters, consumer electronics interest groups and others ramped up myriad public education programs.

Digital Tech Consulting’s top market share leaders by brand include RCA, Magnavox, Insignia and Zenith.

“If anything, the market for digital?to?analog converter boxes has been even stronger than our original forecast of 30 million units – which some considered too generous,” Moore noted. “Of course, the cost?relieving coupon program, as well as some consumers buying boxes without coupons, has helped to boost sales.”

Earlier this month, it was announced that consumers who apply for federal coupons to pay for converter boxes ahead of next month's digital transition are being placed on a waiting list, and that they may not receive their vouchers before the switchover, according to the Commerce Department (story here).

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the arm of the Commerce Department administering the coupon program, created the waiting list after hitting a $1.34 billion funding limit set by Congress.

More Broadband Direct:

• FCC calls out Comcast on VoIP quality

• Copps, Adelstein call for transition delay

• Verizon ready to retail femtocells

• DTC: About 9M converter boxes still available

• Broadband Briefs for 01/19/09


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