Skip to main content

NEW YORK: HD is the “new normal,” according to Nielsen, but what remains unchanged is that penetration of hi-def TV sets exceeds consumption of HD content. Nielsen’s latest count indicates that more than three-quarters of U.S. households now have HDTV sets—up 14 percent from last year. More than 40 percent of those homes have more than one HD set, as well.

At the same time, consumption of HD content lags behind adoption—as it has from the introduction of the technology into the commercial market. As of May 2012, 61 percent of all primetime viewing was done on an HD set, but just a fraction of those sets were displaying content in true high-definition. Nielsen notes that to get true hi-def, the set must either be decoding an over-the-air HD signal or receiving it from an HD-capable set-top box.

Consequently, only 29 percent of English-language broadcast and 25 percent of cable primetime viewing was in HD. Sports and entertainment were more likely to be watched in HD than kids’ shows and news.

“The gap between HD potential and true HD viewing leaves a wide berth for consumers to bridge,” Nielsen said.

The figures are derived from a study of 17 networks—five English language broadcast networks and 12 cable nets—conducted in May of 2012.