Nearly 1 in 4 U.S. Homes Has HDTV: Nielsen

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With the holiday electronics buying season here, Nielsen reported Thursday that HDTV penetration has increased to 23.3% of all U.S. television households as of the end of November.

When Nielsen began tracking HDTV ownership in its People Meter samples in July 2007, only 10% of homes had HDTVs and this percentage has increased in each subsequent month.

Among the 18 largest local markets, Washington has the highest HDTV penetration, with 31.1% of homes receiving high definition. Boston and New York follow with penetrations of 30.5% and 30.2%, respectively. Detroit has the lowest HDTV penetration: 20.9% of homes.

“The accelerated penetration of HDTV can be attributed to a number of factors, including the lower prices for high definition television equipment, the increased availability of high definition programming, and purchases of new television sets in anticipation of the digital transition set for February of 2009,” Steve McGowan, Nielsen senior vice president of client research initiatives, said in a prepared statement. “With nearly a quarter of homes equipped with high definition televisions, the demand for high definition content will only increase.”

Nielsen also looked at the types of programming that are most popular in households that are receive HDTV signals, comparing that to households without HDTV capability.  Sporting events have the highest index of viewing in HDTV households, with HDTV receivable and capable homes watching 54% more sports than households that are not HDTV capable.

Other genres that are popular with HDTV households include political programming (25% more popular) and awards shows (10% more popular).

Nielsen’s HDTV estimates are available nationally and for all 56 metered markets. The estimates are based on Nielsen Field staff review of all equipment to identify TV sets that are capable of receiving and displaying HDTV pictures, as well as those that are actually receiving those signals.