Fifty-six percent of US households are now equipped for HDTV, making high-definition television “one of the most quickly adopted consumer entertainment technologies of the past 20 years, but true HD viewing is still far eclipsed by viewing of standard definition television,” according to research from The Nielsen Company. 

More than 80% of television viewing remains standard definition, according to Nielsen–13% of cable TV viewing and 19% of broadcast TV.

Nielsen cites a variety of reasons for this:

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  • 44 percent of homes either do not have an HD set or an HD service.
  • Because most HD homes have at least one non-HD TV set, about one-third of programming is viewed on a standard set.
  • And even on HD sets, about 20 percent of viewing is through non-HD feeds.

Cable sports networks are watched in HDTV more than any other type of network, according to Nielsen’s research, while children’s television is the least likely to be watched in HD. Young adults are the most likely among age groups to search for and watch HD content. HDTV adoption also varies with race and ethnicity: some 2/3 of Asian-American households are set up for HDTV while the corresponding figure for African-Americans is about 50%.

Nielsen expects to HD viewing to grow along with penetration of HDTV equipment, as well as growth in the number of teens and children with HDTV sets in their rooms, cable and satellite service providers replace SD channels with HD channels, and as cable providers require set-top boxes for all sets.

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