While Americans have always enjoyed television, high definition TVs are opening a new chapter in that historic love affair. Not since color TV was introduced more than 50 years ago has a new TV technology been so rapidly adopted. And despite the recession, Americans seem willing to continue to spend their hard-earned money on this new technology.
As of February 2009, slightly more than one-third of American TV homes had at least one HDTV, a marked increase from November 2008, when 29.2 percent of homes had one, and a huge leap from February 2008 when only 19.3 percent of homes had one. Indeed, a separate Nielsen report found that HDTVs were the single most popular home entertainment system purchases during the holidays. Asian households had the greatest penetration — 41.8 percent — while African-American homes had the lowest at 25.9 percent.
Where are people putting their new TV sets? Nearly two-thirds are located in common areas such as the living or family room. In homes with more than one HDTV, the second set is usually located in a master bedroom. This switch to HDTV doesn’t necessarily mean that households are ditching their old standard sets; they are simply re-locating them to other rooms such as bedrooms and the basement, and may use them for a dedicated purpose, such as video gaming. Overall, the average U.S. household now has 2.6 TV sets.
“It’s clear that despite the current economic climate, HD remains on course to become the benchmark in TV viewing. As prices of HDTVs continue to fall — a trend that might accelerate in the current environment — and circumstances such as the digital transition create new opportunities to promote the sets and programming, HDTV will continue to gain a greater foothold in U.S. television homes,” said Steve McGowan, svp, insights and client research initiatives, Nielsen.
Brandweek is a unit of the Nielsen Co.