Home Theater Is Dying… Or Maybe Not

It’s doom and gloom time for this crazy hobby of ours, folks. We home theater fanatics are dwindling to an ever-shrinking niche. Homeowners these days don’t even want home theater rooms in their houses… Except for the ones who do, of course.

Almost two years ago, I wrote a similar post here about the reported demise of the home theater. An article at that time claimed that professional home theater installers had seen a trend away from the so-called “bat cave” home theater (a dedicated movie-watching space with dark walls and strict light control) in favor of multipurpose Great Rooms that might include home theater gear but could also be used for other forms of lounging or entertaining.

More recently, the National Association of Home Builders conducted a survey that identified ten once-popular features that are on the decline in modern houses. In today’s tough economic climate, homeowners are prioritizing practical and value-oriented features over luxury or wish-list items such as whirlpool tubs, two-story foyers and, yes, home theaters. According to the article:

Even with all the options in home entertainment today, the media room isn’t high on the list for home builders. You’re much more likely to find a charging station for all your devices hidden away in a kitchen-island cabinet in 2012.

So, is that it? Was the home theater just a fad, like personal saunas and outdoor fireplaces? That depends on whom you ask. Another recent article says that, in fact, home theaters are one of the most desired features for new home buyers.

With home-theater technology evolving and prices lowering over the last decade, the concept has evolved from luxury to near necessity for many households. It’s the place where the family comes together to be entertained, and is the most occupied room in the house after the kitchen and family room.

It’s become the focal point for entertaining and showcasing expansive, crystal clear flatscreens and impressive components. It’s why many homebuyers are looking for houses with home-theater spaces or extra rooms to create one.

Real estate experts agree that home theatres add value to a home. According to the Home Builders Association, most new homes come with a home theater or media room.

The people building new houses believe that no one wants theater rooms anymore, even though the people actually buying houses do still seem to want them.

What does this mean for us? Essentially, if you were planning to move to a new house, you may (or may not) have a hard time finding one with the necessary space to put all your home theater gear and establish the right viewing conditions.

[via StarTribune and Electronic House]


  1. I will tell you exactly what this means. It means that you are no longer seeing rooms built with projectors and screeens and movie-theater style seating, but rather rooms built with flatpanels, sofas and HTiB kits. It means that people want high-quality stuff, but don’t want to spend an arm and a leg. It means that less people are buying Macintosh amps and more people are buying Yamaha and Pioneer amps.

    In a nutshell, people still want media rooms, they just aren’t decking them out like they did in your banner image.

  2. August Lehe

    Mr. Henley…I wondered what the deal was with Macintosh amps? Were they that much better or just that much more expensive? Yes, I HAVE been drooling for a Yamaha amp, but AFTER I get a Panasonic 42-47 Inch Plasma 3-D set and an OPPO 3-D BLD-93 Player. I’m still arguing with myself over the amp and speakers! Bookcases will be the dominant feature of my home theater room. I hope that works!

    • I never owned one myself. I think the big thing is that Macintosh are modern amps that use vacume tubes. Kinda creates a unique sound, from what I have seen at my friend’s house. Macintosh amps also usually only power up to two speakers, so you need multiple amps (at around $2,500 each) to have surround sound.

  3. javier

    My theater room is an extra large bedroom. It easily accommodates my equipment and toys but it isn’t perfectly symmetrical and it has two big windows that heat the room up horribly in summer. Once my wife graduates and starts working we will be looking for a new house and I am definitely building a seperate room in the yard to serve as a shop downstairs and a theaterroom upstairs. I need a place to work on my car and watch movies without her asking me to turn it down. I have some pictures of my setup online ina forum but I don’t know if I can link to it here.

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