SD Ads Stand Out in HD, But Not in a Good Way

One of the most enduring complaints that a lot of HD retailers and set owners have heard for years is that some SD really looks bad on an HD set, and usually worse than it did on the old analog unit.

That's happening with increasing frequency now with commercials, according to Adweek. The publication said less than one percent of all TV spots are created in an HD format today, while the percentage of U.S. dwellings with HD screens arguably is about 20 percent (although a chunk of this group still is not hooked up to HD services, per se).

Ad agency execs say while a great deal of time and research is targeted to keeping eyeballs glued to the screen during the transitions between program content and ads, nothing is more jarring to large-screen HD viewers than when a non-HD commercial pops up. It serves as a constant reminder of video inequality, since virtually all prime time network series, sports and specials have aired in 1080i or 720p now for several years. It's like a constant invitation, some say, to get up and take a break.

ABC-TV said it aired a relatively small number of HD spots only about 425 times between mid-2005 and mid-2006, for an average of less than two spots daily. Yet each of the four major networks runs about 600 ads a day.

Some analysts argue that even while HD penetration in the U.S. and elsewhere grows steadily, it still does not yet reach enough eyeballs to justify the extra costs of producing HD spots; although the extra production costs are relatively low, compared to many major advertisers' overall budgets.