Western European consumer spending on DVD software is forecast to increase by more than 150% over the next four years, reaching Eu15.3bn ($15bn) by 2006 and accounting for 85% out of a forecast Eu18.4bn ($18bn) total spending on video software, according to researcher Screen Digest.

While sales of VHS tapes in Western Europe are expected to fall by 6% by volume in 2002, consumers will spend Eu5.2bn on DVD software in 2002. The report - 'European Video: Market Assessment & Forecasts 2001-2006' also predicts that volume sales of DVD software in Western Europe will overtake VHS in 2003. In the rental sector, however, VHS will remain predominant until 2005.

"By 2003, almost 50m Western European households will have acquired at least one standalone DVD Video player. We expect this will increase to more than 100m households by 2006, a penetration rate of 62% of the territory's television households", said the report's author John Miller.

"The availability of affordably priced DVD Video players across most European markets has been a major factor in consumers' rapid take-up of DVD", he claims.

Including the 25 million DVD-equipped games consoles and DVD recorders 77% of Western Europe's television households will own at least one TV-based machine capable of playing DVDs by 2006.

The digital format will have achieved the same level of TV household penetration - in eight years since its launch - that took the VCR more than 20 years to achieve.