HDTV penetration high, but viewing remains surprisingly low

By now most of your friends probably own one or more high-definition television sets, but are they watching it in HD or standard definition resolution? Interestingly, many Americans don’t know the difference until they are made aware.

In a new study by the Nielsen Company, research shows that 56 percent of American homes now have HDTV sets, but more than 80 percent of all TV viewing remains in standard definition.

Nielsen found that 19 percent of viewing on broadcast television and 13 percent of total day viewing on cable is actually in high-definition. Forty-four percent of homes either do not have an HD set or HD services. Most HD homes also have at least one standard-definition TV set.

The highest percentage of viewing on cable networks is with sports programming, representing around 21 percent of TV homes. Younger viewers are generally the biggest HD viewers. People ages 18-34 represent 28 percent of HD sports viewers and 23 percent of entertainment viewers.