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HDTV Owners Viewing Standard Definition

Demand for high-definition television (HDTV), which includes demand for both HDTV sets and programming, has been increasing steadily for several years according to the latest market study by In-Stat.

For TV set manufacturers and pay-TV service providers, this spike in demand has been a bright spot in an otherwise troubled market. However, there is still one aspect of the HDTV ecosystem that remains problematic, especially for pay-TV service providers.

The HD gap refers to households that have an installed HDTV set, but are not using it to watch HD programming. Historically, this gap has been the most visible in the U.S. market. For example, in late 2006, only 40 percent of American households with an installed HDTV set were using it to watch HD programming.

A recent survey of U.S. households by In-Stat offers both good and bad news about the HD gap. The good news is that the gap had narrowed significantly over the past two years. Based on a survey of over 1,100 households with an installed HDTV set, only 18 percent were not receiving and watching HD programming.

The bad news? Even though the gap has narrowed from 60 to 18 percent, this still means that almost one out of every five U.S. households with an HDTV set is watching standard-definition programming.

In-Stat's survey followed up by asking those who fell into the HD gap why they weren't watching HD programming. The top two responses -- accounting for almost 60 percent -- were Not interested in HD programming or HD programming is too expensive.

This data underlines that while U.S. pay-TV service providers have made great strides in narrowing the HD gap, convincing those remaining gap households to go HD is going to be a challenge.

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