While most U.S. households own HDTVs, HD viewing lags, Nielsen says

A majority of U.S. households now own an HDTV, making the entertainment technology one of the most quickly adopted in 20 years, according to the latest research from Nielsen.

However, there remains a sizable discrepancy between HDTV ownership and viewing actual HD programming. According to Nielsen, while 56 percent of U.S. households have at least one HDTV, a mere 13 percent of total cable viewing and 19 percent of over-the-air TV viewing is done on an HD channel.

Several reasons account for the seeming inconsistency. First, 44 percent of homes still do not have an HDTV set or an HD programming service. Second, most homes still have non-HD sets, which means about 33 percent of programming is viewed on SDTVs, Nielsen said. Third, not all viewing on HD sets is of HDTV programming. According to Nielsen, about 20 percent of what’s viewed on HDTVs is non-HD content.

The Nielsen research also revealed differences among age groups when it comes to HD viewing, as well as the popularity of various programming genres in HD.

Nielsen looked at what it describes as “true” HD viewing (watching HD programming on an HD display) on cable networks. It found that sports networks account for the greatest percentage of total viewing in HD (21 percent). News network viewing in HD ran a close third to entertainment networks, with the former accounting for 16 percent and the latter 15 percent. Kids’ networks accounted for only 2 percent. By age, HD cable network viewing was most popular with the 18-to-34-year-old bracket.

Phil Kurz

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.