Tech on Deck: Tying It to the Television

As prices and profitability on televisions continue to fall, TV retailers are more motivated than ever to push consumers past this glass ceiling of purchasing only a television.

A recent NPD study looking at the basket of goods consumers purchase when buying a TV revealed that about a third of consumers buy other products with their television sets. The breadth of these products includes connections, protections, even confections.

With such a high percentage of televisions supporting high-definition output -- some as small as 19 inches -- it's no surprise that consumers are looking to new consumer electronics components that match the output from their TVs.

At January's Consumer Electronics Show, this was evident in such moves as Samsung releasing a HTIB system that reflected its new TV's "touch of color" industrial design. LG also introduced new systems co-designed with legendary audio engineer Mark Levinson.

As anticipated, according to NPD's research, HDMI cables were among the most popular items sold with TVs overall. These high-speed connection cables have become practically a necessity for those moving up from an analog television, even if consumers are doing no more than connecting an HDTV to a simple up-converting DVD player. In addition, the differing dimensions of HDTVs from their analog predecessors have often required different arrangements within the home.

With living room televisions becoming thinner than ever, 17 percent of all respondents who had purchased a television said they had also bought mounting brackets. Results were, of course, higher for flat-panel buyers.

Entertainment centers may struggle moving forward with the decreasing popularity of rear projection televisions. Forty-four percent of those who had bought a rear projection TV in the past 12 months reported buying such a stand or center for use with their TV, making furniture the most popular cross-sold item for rear projection TV. Rear projection was the only TV type for which furniture was a more popular accessory purchase than HDMI cables. However, rear projection TV buyers tended to buy less expensive entertainment centers than LCD owners.

Consumers' desire to trade up to larger screen sizes while fitting such TVs into existing consoles or entertainment cabinets have led many top-tier manufacturers to explore flat-panel televisions with thinner bezels (this is the border around the screen). Sony, for example, has grouped such LCD TVs in its Z series of Bravias.

NPD found that an extended warranty was the second most popular item purchased with a television, with nearly one-in-three reporting that they opted for extra purchase protection. Other popular service options were complex installations and delivery.

However, many consumers may prefer to get their TVs at Wal-Mart rather than a retailer that will install a wall mount. Thirteen percent of consumers surveyed said they bought items unrelated to the television at the time they bought their TVs. The most common of these was food, which might lend new meaning to the term "TV dinner."

Ross Rubin is director of industry analysis for consumer technology at the NPD Group.

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