Only 17 percent of local U.S. TV stations broadcast HD ads

While the number of homes with HD television sets in the U.S. is growing significantly, only 17 percent of local television stations are equipped to broadcast commercials at HD resolution.

The 17 percent figure — from the first quarter of 2011 — grew from 13 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010. Yet it continued to lag significantly behind the number of homes with HD sets, which is now in well over three-fifths of all U.S. households.

This is according to a new report from Extreme Reach, a provider of advertising management and distribution tools. The newest data found once again that local markets lagged behind national broadcast and cable networks, and that smaller local markets were the worst performers.

Currently, 89 percent of network affiliates air HD ads in the top 20 DMAs, while 42 percent of local cable and broadcast media support HD. Thirty-one percent of advertisers have adopted HD.

The report also found "near universal" ability to accept HD ads at the ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates in large markets. All network affiliates in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago can now air HD ads. "The issue of local coverage appears to be the most prevalent across smaller stations in smaller markets," the report concluded.

There are major hurdles to wider HD adoption, the report found, based on responses from ad agencies, advertisers and production companies. Thirty-five percent said HD commercial formatting is an issue, with many agencies creating spots in both HD and SD. Fifty-three percent said the lack of HD destinations is a hurdle, since many smaller local stations refuse to accept HD material. Finally, HD is more expensive, with 40 percent calling its price "prohibitive."