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CEA Researcher: Growth In Tablet Market Could Make TVs the Second Screen

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A Black Friday Survey projects nearly $44 billion will be spent on gifts from Thanksgiving through Monday, though caution lingers due to the economy.

Is the tablet ready to move from being the second screen to the primary screen? It might be, according to the Consumer Electronics Asssociation's senior researcher, who noted that tablets and smartphones were the top selling electronic devices this holiday weekend.

According to the interim results of the CEA’s Black Friday Survey, 47 percent of shoppers bought electronics through Friday, with 26 percent buying a smartphone and 22 percent grabbing a tablet.

Noting that roughly 31 percent of U.S. households currently have a tablet, CEA's chief economist and senior director of research Shawn DuBravac said, “It would not surprise me if half of U.S. households own tablets by the beginning of 2013.

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“For a lot of folks, second screen is about being second to TV. I think we can see that start to reverse, especially when you start to talk about 50-60 percent of U.S. households having tablets," he said. "Consumers might be starting with a tablet and going to TV. That could affect how content creators distribute their content and the type of stories that they tell.”

With competition from digital distribution, how did packaged media fare during the holiday weekend? According to CEA's interim results, of the 47 percent of shoppers that said they bought consumer electronics through Friday, about one in three bought DVDs or Blu-ray Discs.

The interim results of the CEA survey project that $43.7 billion will be spent on gifts from Thanskgiving through Monday by an estimated 120 million shoppers. Still, CEA’s pre-Black Friday survey found half of consumers say the impending “fiscal cliff” will have a moderate to large negative impact on their holiday spending, and 84 percent said they believed the fiscal cliff would have a moderate to large impact on the U.S. economy.

“Despite the fact that the weekend looks pretty good and we expect fourth quarter sales to be strong, my expectation is that we hit Q1 and things slow down a bit,” DuBravac said, noting that he doesn't expect to see a significant amount of restocking of inventory in the next quarter. “We head into the first quarter on a bit of a wait and see basis.”

CEA plans to release the final results of its Black Friday survey on Monday. The association's annual International CES opens Jan. 8 in Las Vegas.