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Report: HDTV Owners, Viewers Not in Sync

26 Jan, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Global proliferation of high-definition flat panel televisions in households does not reflect corresponding viewing of HD programming, according to a new HDTV report.

While there were 39 million HDTV households in the United States at the end of 2008, up 24% from 29 million in 2007, and the number of people receiving and watching HD programming increased 40% in 2008, there were still 17 million households not watching HD programming, according to a report from Scottsdale, Ariz.-based research firm, In-Stat.

Specifically, In-Stat analyst Mike Paxton said the growth rate of HD program viewing should have been proportionally greater. Paxton said recent data suggests HDTV consumers consider HD programming too expensive and limited in selection, and that with the current economic recession, consumers are questioning paying the monthly premiums associated with renting a HD set-top box or paying for HD programming.

Paxton said cable companies are aggressively marketing HD programming to consumers at the retail level.

“They are spending more time and money telling people about HD programming and the value associated with it,” Paxton said.

The analyst said cable operators such as Comcast have actively been promoting HD programming via HDTV displays at Best Buy and other CE retailers.

Historical reasons included a lack of understanding among consumers that simply owning an HDTV did not automatically result in receiving HD programming.

“That used to be the No. 2 reason three years ago,” he said.

The report found that the United States and Japan continue to dominate global HDTV penetration, with European HDTV penetration expected to reach 10 million households by 2011.

Cable and satellite providers represent 80% of all HD programming, while broadcast TV and Telco services account for the remaining 20%.

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