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Cable's Still the Top TV Choice: CTAM

Philadelphia— The Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing said last week that for its 11th consecutive year of tracking consumer trends, cable (65%) remains the choice as the preferred video provider and that subscriptions to digital-cable service (20%) have nearly doubled since 2001.

Digital-cable customers are more likely than cable, premium cable or satellite customers to own multiple VCRs, large screen TVs, video game systems, PCs, modems, CD-ROMs, PC DVD-ROMs and cellular phones, according to the commissioned Pulse released at the CTAM Summit last week.

Awareness of media centers — central hubs for a variety of digital-entertainment devices — was highest among cable-modem (50%) and digital-cable (47%) customers. Overall, 41% of respondents reported being aware of media centers.

Ownership of console DVD players is up, but down among digital-cable customers, to 67% in 2005 from 73% in 2004. DVD player ownership is up among satellite subscribers (71% versus 66 % in 2004). CTAM found that tied to cable's on-demand services minimizing the need for DVDs.

The study found consumers need additional education as more and more high-definition television sets enter the marketplace. More than half (55%) of basic, 60% of digital and 51% of satellite customers did not know extra equipment is required to see the benefit of programs broadcast in HDTV format.

A majority of basic (61%) and digital-cable customers (64%) and satellite customers (72%) were unaware that HDTV broadcasts were of better quality than a DVD, CTAM said.

Subscriptions to online services have remained fairly consistent, but broadband subscriptions are up to 25% penetration in 2005 from 5% in 2001. Cable broadband customers more than doubled over the past few years, to 19% in 2005 from 9% in 2001.

The research is based on a telephone survey conducted by ICR as part of the ICR Centris omnibus survey conducted from June 3 to June 9. The sample includes 1,017 randomly selected U.S. consumers 18 years of age or older.

CTAM said 65% of weighted respondents were cable customers, 23% DBS customers, 55% online users and 14% had no multichannel television service. The study's margin of error was 3.1 percentage points.