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Survey: 'HD' Unknown to One-in-Seven Americans

"HD" is what? Home Depot? High Density? Hot Date? There are surely other names for "HD" other than "high definition" (especially if you live on a distant planet), although it's hard to believe there are those among us (and they know who they are) who really don't have a clue what "HD" means in the television realm.

How many people don't know? As much as 13 percent of Americans as we rapidly approach 2010, according to a new survey from Frank N. Magid Associates. Its findings reveal that about one-in-seven Americans don't know that the technical term "HD" refers to various, relatively new digital TV formats.

Perhaps a bit less surprising is the survey's findings that a full one-third of current HD product users are not tapping into actual HD content for viewing — while an undeterrmined percentage of that pool is not aware of that fact.

And apparently, not all DTV set owners are fully aware of whether or not their units are even HD-capable. Thus, the guesstimate that Magid uses to determine how many households have at least one HD set in the home is "between 33- and 50-percent."

Also, among HD dwellings, only about 66 percent are subscribing to HD content via cable and DBS. (The study, like many, seems to presume that virtually none of this group is aware of the terrestrial possibilities that HD affords in some areas.) The upshot is that a full one-third of the potential HD audience with HD sets is viewing only SD content. Some know this and don't want to pay extra for HD channels. Some don't get it at all, and some simply don't care one way or another.

Magid estimates as many as 14 million HD set owners in the U.S. don't have HD programming (including terrestrial) — which is one big reason why cablers and satellite firms continue putting big bucks into their marketing campaigns and strategies in hot pursuit of those still-elusive HD subs.