HDTVs Galore

Penetration reaches one in four

More than 23 percent of television homes--nearly 26 million--have a hi-def TV set, according to Nielsen. The uptake was attributed to shrinking prices and growing awareness. Indeed, sets that were thousands of bucks a few years ago can now be had for a grand and change. At Amazon’s outlet, a 50-inch 1080p Hitachi is priced at $1,400. At the other end of the scale, a 13-inch Haier CRT model can be had for around $100.

The media research company tracks HDTV penetration through its 56 People Metered markets. Washington, D.C. ranked No. 1 with the highest penetration among the 18 largest TV markets, with 31 percent; Boston and New York followed with around 30 percent each. The Motor City, with its inherent car troubles, was at the bottom of the big markets. Detroit clocked in with 21 percent penetration.

Nielsen previously divulged HD reception as well as set penetration, but not this time. In October 2007, 14 percent of TV households had at least one HDTV set, but about 20 percent of that segment didn’t have programming in HD through whatever provider they were using. The penetration of HD homes that rely exclusively on over-the-air TV isn’t broken out, but TVB’s test facility suggests that troubling reception would drive HD owners to a pay TV service.

Sports is the most-watched type of programming in HD--not a revelation, since football was the first thing to be done in HD, and ESPN was the first network out of the gate with an all HD channel. Households with HD sets watched 54 percent more sports than the less privileged standard-def set. Somewhat inexplicably, political programming was the next most popular genre, with a 25 percent hike in HD households.