Behind the headlines
For TV viewers, 2005 was a "wow" year.
During the course of 12 months, prices on select plasma TVs fell below $1,000 on 40-inch screens, and viewers gained a multitude of avenues--from cell phones to iPods to TV shows on demand--for tapping into TV land.
"The big deal this year was the absolute plummeting of prices," said Eric Haruki, an IDC research manager.
Liquid crystal display TVs drove the across-the-board price cuts in big-screen TVs. LCDs, the pricier cousins of plasma TVs, dropped to an average of $2,500 to $2,700 for a 42-inch TV, Haruki said. That represents more than a 41 percent drop over last year's prices.
The drop in LCD prices stems from a glut of large panels.
"LCDs have gotten bigger, and now you can find them in a 40-inch size," Haruki said. "They now compete with plasma on both size and price."
To keep up with LCDs, some plasma TV makers have dropped their prices below $1,000, though the larger brand name makers continue to sell plasma TVs for roughly $2,500 to $3,000.
The morphing TV market also dominated changes in the entertainment industry this year.
TV networks and show producers teamed up with cellular carriers, portable digital media player companies from Apple Computer to toy maker Hasbro, and online giants such as America Online to mine new distribution deals for their content.
NBC, for example, struck a deal that lets consumers download 11 television shows from iTunes to their iPods or PCs for $1.99 per episode.
Other media player deals included Hasbro's deal with Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, which lets people download cartoons for $1.99 to $2.99 per episode onto Hasbro's VuGo Multimedia System.
Cell phone carriers, meanwhile, are also jumping into TV. Verizon Wireless announced plans to use Microsoft's Windows Media software for its streaming-video service.
V Cast, Verizon's video-programming service, is geared toward offering access to video clips from networks such as VH1 and Comedy Central.
Telephone companies from AT&T to Verizon Communications are also searching for ways to segue into the TV services business as they face a loss of revenue from their core market to voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, services.
As TV shows become more readily available through devices other than the traditional TV set, pollsters and researchers may need to factor other media into their quests to track how much television viewers are consuming.
Politicians, too, are acknowledging the future of television. Under a last-minute compromise reached by U.S. House of Representatives and Senate politicians this month, all American households would have to ensure that their televisions can receive all-digital broadcasts by Feb. 17, 2009.
Behind the headlines
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