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Confusion Continues to Hamper HD Sales

One of the curious disconnects plaguing the rollout of HD in U.S. homes over the last several years has been the sales figures of consumers who purchased HD-capable monitors by early 2005 (somewhere over 10 million)--in stark contrast to the actual number of homes that subscribe to HD via cable or DBS (about 3.5 million).

The high figure of 60 percent of HD owners not receiving HD programming--albeit, this does not take into account terrestrial HD--would make more sense, for example, if HD-quality DVDs were available, which is not yet the case. At least then it could be said that HD owners are purchasing sets primarily to see movies in HD.

But Forrester reported that many HD consumers believe they already receive HD service when they don't--including nearly half (45 percent) of all analog cable subs with HD sets but no digital set-top boxes. About 1.9 million of today's 3.5 million American HD households get their content from cable, according to Forrester, while the remaining 1.6 million are satellite subs. That's a rather alarming stat for the cable industry to ponder: Cable captures less than 20 percent of the overall universe of homes already HD-equipped.

Forrester also forecasts that HD sets will be in 16 million U.S. households by the end of this year (in other words, after the big holiday selling season), but with a mere 7 million signing up for cable or DBS HD services, according to published reports.

So while HD sets are selling at an increasingly brisk pace these days, at lower prices each month, more often than not new HD homes do not translate into more consumers actually watching HD programming, at least via cable of satellite (even if they believe otherwise).