DVD Hardware Sales Charging Hard In Soft Economy

The U.S. economy may be in a slump, but don’t tell that to the manufacturers of DVD hardware. Proving that it has to be the consumer product of the decade, DVD machines continue on a retail tear. Sales were up a whopping 44% in the first half of 2003 over the same period last year. That’s more than 10 million new players on the TV rack in U.S. homes, according to figures compiled by the DVD Entertainment Group, now known as the Digital Entertainment Group.

More than 66 million DVD players have been sold since the format’s launch in April 1997, bringing the number of DVD households to nearly 50 million (adjusting for households with more than one player). At the same time, consumer intent to purchase DVD players continues to be stronger than all other electronics products, according to a recent report from the Consumer Electronics Assn. Nearly a third of all non-owner households expect to purchase some type of DVD player in the next year, a slightly higher percentage than those who expressed their intent to buy a DVD player last year.

“As we continue to embrace the success of the DVD format, consumer enthusiasm for DVD hardware and software also continues to be one of the primary drivers for the overall success of home theater,” says Gary Bauhard, director of marketing at Pioneer Electronics and vice president of the DEG. “DVD, as the center of the home theater experience, has directly contributed to the growth of other consumer electronics categories as well, such as high-def monitors.”

DVD continued to be a driving force for Hollywood’s major studios during the first half of the year, with more than 427 million DVD discs shipped to retailers. The total number of units shipped in North America has reached nearly 1.8 billion since the format’s launch. Consumers shelled out over $10 billion for DVD and VHS rentals and sales in the first half of 2003.