One-third of U.S. TV Households Have Hi-Def Sets

NEW YORK: As of February, more than one-third of American TV homes had at least one HDTV set, Nielsen said in a recently issued report. Nielsen found that 33.3 percent of U.S. TV households had a high-definition TV set, while only 28.8 percent also received HD programming.

“There are a number of reasons that may explain this difference,” the report stated. “One… is that consumers may often confuse content they view on an HD set as HD programming. Not recognizing the need to upgrade their cable or satellite subscription to receive HD content, many consumers buy HD sets and connect them to their current, non-HD, set-top boxes, believing that what they are watching is in HD when, in fact, it is not.”

Another possibility is that an HD set is a one-time expense versus the monthly bill for subscription HD via cable or satellite, suggesting Nielsen didn’t take ATSC reception into account.

Nielsen derived the numbers from its National People Meter sample. The previous metric, taken last November, indicated that HDTV penetration had reached 29.2 percent of television households. The year-earlier figure from February 2008 was 19.3 percent.

“It’s clear that despite the current economic climate, HD remains on course to become the benchmark in TV viewing,” Nielsen Senior Vice President of Insights and Client Research Initiatives Steve McGowan said. “As prices of HDTVs continue to fall--a trend that might accelerate in the current environment--and circumstances such as the digital transition create new opportunities to promote the sets and programming, HDTV will continue to gain a greater foothold in U.S. television homes,” -- Deborah D. McAdams