DVD players raise their game

DVD, seen as the successor to video, has finally taken off in the UK. Almost a fifth of all adults, mainly the young and well-off, now own or rent a player

Of all the recent advances in home entertainment, the DVD player is surely one of the most prominent and important. Since spring last year, DVD player penetration has almost doubled.

A recent TGI survey measured the speed of DVD player adoption by consumers. In spring last year, ten per cent of people aged 15 or over had a DVD player. This increased to 12 per cent in summer, 13 per cent in autumn, 14 per cent in winter, 16 per cent this spring and 19 per cent this summer. Take-up is quick and, if anything, accelerating. DVDs may now be established enough to have reached a “tipping point”, at which they start to be seen by those setting up a new home — or seeking to replace an old VCR – as a “necessity”, rather than a luxury.

So what of VCR ownership? Is the rise of DVDs having an impact, and how quickly did VCR ownership itself become established? In 1987, just under half of all adults claimed to have a VCR at home. By 1990, this had risen to 70 per cent and by 2000 it stood at 91 per cent, where it seems finally to have levelled out. VCRs have virtually saturated the market, and the TGI survey indicates that VCR penetration has not gone into decline – 99 per cent of those who have a DVD player also have a video recorder. By the same token, 20 per cent of those with a video recorder have a DVD player as well, making these people about ten per cent more likely than the average adult to have one.

In terms of owning or renting, parallel patterns emerge for DVD players and VCRs – 90 per cent of those with a VCR own it, and 90 per cent of those with a DVD player own theirs.

TGI found that a third of VCR-owners hire a video once a month or more, whereas 38 per cent of DVD player-owners hire a DVD with the same frequency. In terms of the genres of DVD or video hired, DVD player-owners both hire and buy more of every one of the 12 genres measured. For instance, 43 per cent of DVD player-owners hire action films, compared with 27 per cent of VCR-owners and 23 per cent buy Disney animation compared with 15 per cent of VCR-owners.

Demographically, DVD player-owners are 16 per cent more likely to be male and far more likely to be relatively young. Adults aged 15 to 34 are 46 per cent more likely than average to have a DVD player. Similarly, those in the AB social groups are 14 per cent more likely than average to have one, and those earning &£40,000 or more a year are 67 per cent more likely to. By contrast, VCR ownership is very consistent across all demographic groups.

Demographics can indicate who the DVD player-owners are, but cannot explain what their motivations are. Consequently, TGI examined buyers’ attitudes. Those with a DVD player are 61 per cent more likely than average to “definitely agree” with the statements “I try to keep up with developments in technology” and “I love to buy new gadgets and appliances”. They are also more than twice as likely to refer to the Internet before making a purchase and about 20 per cent more likely to agree to sometimes responding to direct mail from companies offering goods or services.

In comparison to other countries in western Europe, Britain is very much ahead in terms of DVD player-penetration, particularly compared with Spain and Germany, where penetrations are only six and nine per cent respectively. The German figure masks a rise in the past year from four per cent, but progress in Spain and France has been less impressive.

The market may be slow in some countries, but DVD players have at the very least got a foothold across Europe. With the introduction of recordable DVD players – and plummeting prices – it is difficult to see DVD’s rise slowing in the near future.

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