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New HD Penetration Figures Cut Between Extremes

In one corner there is CEA, with HD penetration numbers (albeit HD Ready, not necessarily HD Viewing) approaching 35 percent of American homes. In the opposite corner is Nielsen, which recently placed HD home penetration, on average, mostly in the teens (HD Notebook, Nov. 7, 2007).

Now in the center of the ring (perhaps serving as an unwitting mediator) is Leichtman Research Group, whose numbers generally lay between the other two sets. (Its definition of potential HD usage is slightly different from the other two, as well.) LRG finds 26 percent of households have at least one TV set “capable of receiving HDTV—essentially double the penetration of HDTV of two years ago.”

But LRG’s numbers include HD-set homes without HD tuners, but which eventually could receive HD content rather easily via DBS, cable or other means, if so desired.

Leichtman’s fifth annual survey also finds consumer confusion over HD-centric products and services “remains strong.” LRG says while more than 75 percent of HD owners “believe” they are watching HD programming, the research group estimates about 20 percent are not.

Nearly 60 percent of HD owners said they were not told how to receive HD programming when they purchased their sets, LRG said, and about 40 percent of HD owners “believe” their households currently have high-definition DVD players— which LRG said is “a figure that, if accurate, would represent a much greater total than the number of [Blu-ray Disc or HD DVD] players actually sold to date.”

LRG forecasts each of more than 85 million U.S. households will have at least one HD set by the end of 2012.