My take on how economy will affect video

October 15, 2008

As I have been promising/threatening, yesterday I completed my take on how a down economy will affect various types of video in the home. Forrester clients can read the full analysis here. 

Something I can share with everyone, client or not, is an interesting analysis I did on consumer spending on audio/video hardware. One of the questions I wanted to answer was what % of entertainment spending do affluent consumers account for. It turns out, a lot. In fact, the 45% of US households that earn more than $50K a year account for 79% of entertainment “fees and admissions” and 62% of audio/video equipment spending. That’s a lot. Interestingly, these wealthier consumer have been increasing their spending on audio/video tech less aggressively than average over the past few years. 

From the 14 October 2008 Forrester Research report, "Video Devices Vulnerable In A Down Economy"
From the 14 October 2008 Forrester Research report, 

Video Devices Vulnerable In A Down Economy

I get all of this from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey (a datasource which, if you know how use it, can answer many of life’s most important questions, and it’s all free).

Just as Jefferson famously said that “the tree of liberty must, from time to time, be refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants,” it is similarly true that technology markets must, from time to time, be challenged with a lackluster economy. Not quite as big a deal, but you get my point.

Overall, the losers are new technology platforms like standalone Blu-ray and premium content subscriptions. The winners — at a very critical time for all involved, I might add — are free online video services like Hulu.com and Fancast, including Netflix’s streaming services, newly enriched with additional content. So while Netflix has warned it won’t hit 9 million subscribers as originally hoped in 2008, the millions it does have will rely on the service more than before.


First evidence HDTV sales might get hit by recession fears

October 14, 2008

I mentioned last week when the Dow was plummeting that I was polishing off a piece for Forrester on what a downturn does to video entertainment in the home. That report is due out tomorrow, so I’ll bring it up then, but notice that today’s Wall Street Journal reports the first evidence that HDTV sales might be headed for a crash. Check it out at: Economic Woes Hit HDTV Sales – WSJ.com

This is interesting in light of last week’s assertion from the CEA that TVs and other A/V hardware weregoing to grow 4.7% this year despite a looming recession. If I had to bet, I’d bet on zero growth for the category.

Zero growth is not as drastic as it sounds. This is a category that’s notoriously elastic in a down or up economy, according to Current Expenditure Survey data that I’m citing in my piece later this week. However, specific subcategories and even brands can still grow. Take Vizio, which will be the low-cost substitute to which more people will turn. The Wii will sell out again (though fewer games will sell than hoped, while game rentals will go up a notch). Maybe the enormously popular Wii Fit balance board will slow down, but that’s a big maybe (have you tried it? sooooo cool). And I’ve already written about the Flip camera’s likely ability to weather the storm

So bad news it not bad news all around. The people who sell rice are thrilled right now. Rice always goes up in a down economy.