DVD players finally surpass VCRs

December 21, 2006 The three decade era of the VCR has finally ended with the home video recording baton being passed briefly to the DVD player before the market decides what comes next from a plethora of technologies such as Tivo, VOD, DirecTV and direct recording to computer. Surprisingly, it has taken DVD almost a decade to overtake the VCR, being launched in 1997 and becoming more popular in the sales channel in 2003. The point where more U.S. households own DVD players than VCRs was passed in the third quarter of this year according to Media research giant Nielsen’s Home Technology Report which shows that 81.2% of all households now own a DVD compared with 79.2% of households owning VCRs. Interestingly, though it has been around several decades longer, the Personal Computer is still only present in 73.4% of U.S. homes and the fast-moving MP3 player is still only in 26.7% of U.S. homes.

As of third quarter 2006, DVD penetration in the U.S. is up 6% from the previous year and continues to grow, while VCR penetration has started a decline. In 1999 when Nielsen first started tracking DVD ownership in its Home Tech Report, DVD penetration was only 6.7% and was dwarfed by VCR ownership at 88.6%.

Nielsen's latest report also found that DVD households now rent DVDs about twice per month, compared to VCR homes renting VHS tapes only about once per month. The frequency with which households rent video tapes has leveled off during the past six months.

"This study shows the culmination of a long battle for share of consumers," said Paul Lindstrom, senior vice president of custom research for Nielsen Media Research. "Nielsen clients have used information from our Home Tech Report for the past decade to trend the changes in penetration and report use of new devices as they infiltrate the marketplace, and we now see that the popularity of DVDs has finally surpassed that of VCRs."

Some additional topline findings from Nielsen's Home Tech study include:


73.4% of U.S. homes currently have a computer in the household, and homes with children and teens are more likely to have a home computer. There is a large difference in the percentage of lower income homes vs. higher income homes that own a home computer. Homes with an income over $60K are 50% more likely to own a home computer than homes with an income below $60K.


95.4% of consumers with Internet access go online at least once a week, and 37.3% of Internet users go online more than once a day.

78.2% of online users have made purchases over the Internet. 46.8% of online users (ages 12+) have used the Internet to download and play music from the Internet.

MP3 Players

26.7% of U.S. homes own or rent an MP3 player. Households with the presence of children 12-17 years of age are nearly 2-1/2 times more likely to own or rent an MP3 player than compared to the Total U.S.

The percentage of homes owning an MP3 player has risen by 149.5% since 3rd Quarter 2003.


16.4% of U.S. homes own a PDA, and since 3rd quarter 2003, PDA ownership has increased by 4.5%. Not surprisingly, higher income homes are more than four times as likely as lower income homes to own a PDA.

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