In-Stat researcher identifies significant 'HD disconnect'

A serious disconnect exists between the number of TV households in the United States that own HDTVs and the number of households actually receiving HD programs, said In-Stat senior analyst, Converging Markets & Technologies Group, Mike Paxton.

Speaking to HD Technology Update after a presentation on the state of HD television at the HD Technology Summit produced by Broadcast Engineering, Broadcasting & Cable and Multichannel News, Paxton revealed that about 60 percent of the 25 million U.S. households that own an HDTV set do not receive HD programming from terrestrial broadcasters, cable, satellite, IPTV or other sources.

There are three reasons of this disconnect between HDTV owners and HD programming, according to Paxton. First, many consumers are buying an HDTV because it is a digital set that is an improvement over their older set — not specifically to watch HD. Second, consumers are reluctant to pay a $10 to $15 monthly subscription premium to receive HD programming. Finally, there remains confusion in the minds of some HD owners, who think they are watching an HD program on their HDTV because the show opens with a message saying it’s available in HD. This sort of confusion, however, is waning compared to a few years ago, he said.

Some of the issues underlying the HD disconnect also ripple out to viewers who haven’t yet decided to purchase an HDTV, he said.

“A lot of consumers that we talk to… just don’t think that the improvement is great enough from say a digital picture to a high-definition picture, to either go out and buy the set or sign up for the service,” he said. “The added value question in their minds hasn’t been answered positively yet. That, in addition to the three issues we talked about before, always seems to pop up when we talk to consumers about why they’re not getting HDTV sets.”

To read a one-on-one interview with Paxton, see “Far fewer Americans receive HD service than own HDTVs, says researcher.”