Even though Americans have spent billions of dollars on new high-definition TV sets and more than 56% of all American homes are getting HD signals on their enhanced sets, well over 80% of viewing is still done in standard definition, Nielsen reports.
Indeed, only 13% of the viewing for the entire day of cable programming and only 19% of the viewing in broadcast TV is done in high definition, the study found.
The lack of HD viewing reflects several factors, including the fact that 44% of all homes either don't have an HD set or haven't hooked their high-def set up so they are receiving HD signals. Many homes with HD sets also have standard-definition sets in other rooms that are regularly used. Even when viewers are using a HD set, about 20% of the viewing is done on standard-def feeds.
The study also found that HD viewing varies by the type of programming and age. Sports networks lead in HD viewing, with about 21% of all sports viewing being done in HD, followed by entertainment networks (16%), news networks (15%) and kids networks (2%.)
People aged 18 to 34 were the most likely to watch programming in HD, with this demographic viewing 28% of its sports programming in HD, followed by entertainment networks (23%) and news networks (18%).
HD viewing also varied with race and ethnicity, with about two thirds of all Asian homes set up to watch HD, while around half of all African American homes were getting HD signals on their high def sets.
Looking forward, Nielsen predicted that several factors would boost HD viewing, including the spread of HD TV sets into bedrooms where kids and teens do much of their viewing and the growth in the number of HD channels.
While Nielsen found that 56% of homes are able to view HD programming, the actual number of homes with HD sets is actually higher, over 60%. A number of people have still not hooked their HD TV up to either an antenna or a HD service from a multichannel provider so they can receive HD signals.