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HDTV Viewing: The Numbers

After roaming the stores the last few weekends, and seeing the shopping craziness begin, I took notice of what people were purchasing. Overwhelmingly, the most popular purchase was High Definition, flat panel televisions; all types were walking out the doors, plasma, LCD and LED alike.

After a bit of discussion with my friend I was shopping with, we got to talking tech and he was amazed at how may televisions were being bought. “Don’t most people have high definition televisions and service by now,” he asked. Considering we are tech guys, and are typically early adopters, we have been enjoying high definition programming for over five years now. I said I thought less than half the American households had high definition and the debate ensued. He insisted up to 80 percent had high def televisions and service, and I adamantly disagreed.

Being the competitive natured people we are, when we walked in the door at the end of our shopping adventure we immediately hopped online and started looking up the numbers. Now, I knew the majority of Americans were not watching HD programming, but the numbers from the most respected ratings and number crunching companies are hard to argue.

This study by Nielsen says that 80 percent of television viewing is still done in Standard Definition, but they do note that some of this is explained by multi-set households where there may be an HDTV in the mainnielsen_logo room and standard definition televisions in the kid’s room, den, master bedroom or other auxiliary viewing spaces. With that being said, Nielsen cites that 44 percent of homes either don’t have an HD television or access to HD service. The report did not say if these people did not subscribe to HD service, did not live close enough to a broadcast tower or both, considering HD is available for free over the air via antenna. Lastly, of the homes that do have HD televisions about 20 percent of viewing is through non-HD feeds.

Nielson doesn’t go into this aspect of television viewing, but my friend and I started wondering how many people have HD televisions and have no idea that they are not actually watching High Definition. As hard it is for people that are into technology to understand, many people simply think that once they have a HDTV they are automatically watching High Def programming.

Based on all this information it is evident that HD television and programming have a long way to go before the majority of viewers are actually watching High Def. This is good for television manufacturers and providers as there is a huge potential for more HDTV hardware sales and increased subscribers, thus generating more revenue. On the other hand, the 3D push seems to be a showroom novelty at this point as most folks are buying HD and not 3D. So, in the end, I was right in the numbers, but we were both still surprised at what is and what isn’t in the adoption of High Def television viewing.

So now I ask the question of you the TechnoBuffalo readership, are you watching HD content? I would expect so considering your interest in this site. So additionally, tell me the what people you socialize with are watching. I am curious to see the breakdown from the people.


Tom Moccia

Tom Moccia is a native of Stamford, Connecticut and moved his family west in 2000 and now calls Stockton, California home with his wife and two...

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