Web chatter on rise as CES looms

Microsoft most-discussed brand; HD DVD, Blu-Ray also draws

NEW YORK -- In the run-up to this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a 20% increase in CES-related discussion has registered on newsgroups, blogs and message boards compared with the same frame a year ago, according to Nielsen BuzzMetrics.

Microsoft, led by its new Zune, is the most-talked-about brand in the online conversations surrounding CES, with Web discussions devoted to the company up 4.5% from a year ago. In addition to Zune, other Microsoft products ranking in the top 10 for buzz volume include Windows Vista and Xbox 360. Apple, which does not present at CES, is the second-most-talked-about brand in discussions surrounding the conference. BuzzMetrics credits the discussion to the strong market for iPod accessories and Apple's Macworld conference, which takes place at the same time as CES and is seen by consumers as a competitor to the Las Vegas showcase.

Sony is the third-most-talked-about brand, but that company's buzz is down from last year, mainly because its new PlayStation 3 debuted last year at CES.

The most popular discussions surrounding CES center on the home theater/video category, which accounts for 35% of all consumer-generated media posts, BuzzMetrics said, with HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc formats leading the discussion. High-definition multimedia interface, the format that connects PCs to HD displays, is the most-talked-about technology, accounting for 9% of CES buzz this year.

Leading the discussion are such technology blogs as Engadget, Gizmodo and TechCrunch, which highlight new products that will be showcased at CES.

"Blogs continue to penetrate and shape the public conversation about consumer electronics, including major events like CES," said Pete Blackshaw, chief marketing officer at Nielsen BuzzMetrics. "Our research finds that such buzz can greatly impact consumer purchase behavior and the success or failure of new product launches."

The site that generated the most CES buzz is www.avsforum.com, which facilitates conversations about home entertainment, video and gaming. In anticipation of Blu-ray news at the conference, discussion on forum.blu-ray.com also has seen an increase, up 2% compared with a year ago.

As consumers see a limited amount of discussions regarding satellite radio and gaming at this year's CES, sites devoted to that technologies, including www.nintendo.com, www.ps3forums.com and www.satelliteguys.com, are down compared with a year ago. Gaming, however, still remains the second most-talked about category in CES-related conversations.

Nielsen BuzzMetrics measures consumer-generated media and word-of-mouth originating from newsgroups, blogs and message boards. The company shares the data with more than 100 global companies in a range of industries, including entertainment, automotive, consumer electronic and pharmaceutical, and is an affiliate of VNU, the parent company of The Hollywood Reporter.

All chart data provided by Nielsen//NetRatings