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Consumer confusion hampers HDTV sub growth

Although record numbers of American consumers are buying HDTVs, only a fraction of them are signing up for HD programming service from either their local cable operator or a satellite TV provider, reports Cable Digital News.

In a Webcast panel presented by the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM), Josh Bernoff, principal TV and entertainment analyst for Forrester Research, said more than 10 million U.S. households had new HDTVs by the end of last year. But, he said, just slightly over a third of them, or 3.5 million households, subscribed to HD service from a cable or satellite provider.

Of this 3.5 million, 1.9 million took HD service from cable and 1.6 million opted for HD service from satellite. This means that U.S. cable operators actually captured less than 20 percent of the potential universe for cable-delivered HD service.

Bernoff blames the low service signup rate on rampant consumer confusion about what it takes to actually get HD programming. He said many consumers with HDTVs believe they receive HD service even when they don’t, including 45 percent of analog cable subscribers with high-definition sets but no digital set-top boxes.

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