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Nielsen: HDTV Penetration Doubles

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High definition TV penetration has nearly doubled from a year ago, according to Nielsen data released Thursday (Dec. 11). As of Nov. 30, HDTV penetration reached 23.2 percent of all U.S. households, up from 12.8 percent a year ago. At the end of last year, HDTV penetration was 13.5 percent.

Among the 18 largest local markets where Nielsen measures TV audiences using local people meters, Washington, D.C. had the highest HDTV penetration at 31.1 percent, followed by Boston (30.5 percent), New York (30.2 percent), Seattle-Tacoma (29.8 percent) and Philadelphia (29.1 percent).

Detroit had the lowest HDTV penetration at 20.9 percent. Other markets falling below the national average were Minneapolis-St. Paul (21.6 percent) and Miami-Ft. Lauderdale (21.4 percent).

Nielsen attributed the increased penetration to a number of factors, including the lower prices for HDTV sets and the increased availability of programming in high definition, as well as the impending transition to DTV broadcast on Feb. 17.

"With nearly a quarter of homes equipped with high definition televisions, the demand for high definition content will only increase," said Steve McGowan, senior vp of client research initiatives for Nielsen.

Certain genres are more popular in HDTV homes than others, with sports events and sports commentary having the highest index of viewing. Homes with HDTV watch 54 percent more sports than non-capable HDTV households.

Other popular HDTV genres include political content, award ceremonies and situation comedy, indexing at 125, 110, and 100, respectively.