Some 37 million households will receive HD programming by 2008, according to a new report from Strategy Analytics Inc.
"The Transition to Digital Television: FCC Mandates and Market Evolution" predicted that the number of U.S. households owning HD-capable hardware will rise from 8.7 million in 2003 to more than 14 million by the end of this year.
Strategy Analytics added that roughly one-half of those households will also receive HD programming from cable, satellite or terrestrial sources.
"The next 12 months will be a critical period, as consumer-electronics vendors launch a new generation of digital receivers incorporating government-mandated features such as ATSC [Advanced Television Systems Committee] tuners and CableCARD slots," said James Penhune, director of Strategy Analytics’ broadband-media and communications practice, in a prepared statement.
"At the same time, market factors are combining to promote demand for digital TV,” he added. “These include a growing base of households with HD-capable displays and the increasing importance of HD-programming services to cable and satellite operators competing for high-value subscribers."
However, Strategy Analytics still sees some roadblocks ahead.
“Even with this rapid growth, it remains highly unlikely that digital-TV hardware will reach the penetration levels needed to conclude the government's goal of a full transition to digital broadcasting within the next five years,” the researcher said in a prepared statement.
“As a result, legislators and the FCC must seriously consider further regulatory measures, such as the downconversion of digital signals or the subsidy of adaptors for millions of existing TVs,” Strategy Analytics added.