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In-Stat: HD Homes Finally Reach Double-Digits

Approximately 10 million households are watching HD programming on a high-definition set, according to In-Stat .

That number would be somewhat impressive if all those 10 million homes were in the United States. This is a worldwide figure. By the end of 2005, the worldwide total is projected to reach 15.5 million and In-Stat said the rate of growth would continue to be strong over the next several years. By 2009, it projects that HD households worldwide will grow better than five-fold, to 52 million.

There are still "several market challenges" slowing the spread of HD--primarily the need for more HD content, better public awareness education, and widening the geographic availability of HD worldwide, especially in Europe (where HD either does not exist or is not as big as most other forms of DTV), according to In-Stat. The statistical research firm said it mostly surveyed only the five countries were HD has any noticeable presence-- Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

The glass-is-half-full observers can point to In-Stat's figure of 4 million American HD households and say the new number is a dramatic two-and-a-half times the 1.6 million homes from March 2004, exactly a year ago. The glass-is-half-empty folks can say that same 4-million figure means that 97 percent of U.S. TV homes still do not have HD. Nearly half of HD consumers worldwide (45 percent) get their programming via satellite; no specific numbers were provided for cable or terrestrial.

Also, there was a bit of unbridled exuberance in at least one of the In-Stat conclusions. Its survey of U.S. consumers showed "an amazing 76 percent" of respondents had watched an HD program on an HD set. But the researcher quickly added: "Many of the respondents noted they had simply seen a demonstration of HDTV in a retail store." (Still, that seems to indicate that nearly a quarter of all Americans have never glimpsed an HD store display after all these years? Now that's amazing!)