Best Available Screen is the TV Set In The Home

According to the LRG eleventh annual study on HDTV, HD has become more prominent in US households in recent years. (1st Q, 2014) HDTV sets may now be ubiquitous, but the majority of the growth of HDTV has come in just the past five years, and there is still room for progress.

The ways that Americans watch television have significantly changed over the past few years as much attention is deservedly paid to the proliferation of new viewing opportunities on smaller, more mobile, screens, like computers, tablets, and smartphones. Yet, at the same time that these platforms have emerged, TV sets themselves have also been improving with the rise of HDTV.

Television’s Changing Face


Households with an HDTV

Households with multiple HDTVs

HDTVs as percent of all TV sets













Source:LRC Research, April 2014


Interpreting the chart:

  • Over three-quarters of all households in the US now have at least one HDTV set. Five years ago, only about one-third of households had an HDTV. Overall, 43% of US households got their first HDTV set in the past five years, and 70% in the past nine years
  • HDTVs also continue to go “deeper” in the home. Among those with an HDTV, 59% have more than one – up from 33% of HDTV owners five years ago. This means that (including non-HDTV households) 46% of all households now have more than one HDTV set – up from 11% five years ago, and just 1% at the end of 2004
  • In terms of television sets, HDTVs now account for about 59% for all TV sets used in US households, a significant increase from 18% of all TVs five years earlier
  • The majority of TV sets used in US households are now HDTVs, yet about 41% of TVs in US households still are not HD – representing approximately 125 million TV sets.

The number of non-HDTV sets is likely to diminish over the next few years, says the report, as about one-fifth of all households purchase new TV sets each year. In each of the past ten years, between 20%-22% of those surveyed said that their household purchased a new TV set in the past twelve months.

Recent studies, however, have found that the time spent per day watching traditional TV among all adults is virtually unchanged over the past five years. Consumers cite the improved picture quality of HDTV as (by far) the most important reason for getting an HDTV, and it is helping to keep people watching TV as much as ever before. For many, the new smaller-screen platforms represent additional outlets for in-home viewing (and, less commonly, for watching video away from home), but television sets generally remain the screen of choice.

In 2008, ESPN researchers first coined the term “Best Available Screen.” The concept behind this term being that, while consumers are “using different media platforms at different times and in different places for different purposes, they are choosing the best available screen for their location.” While viewing options have grown over the past few years, and consumers have more screens to watch, the Best Available Screen for the content in the home remains the TV set.

For more on the LRG Research Notes, please visit here.



2 comments about "Best Available Screen is the TV Set In The Home ".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, April 11, 2014 at 8:59 a.m.

    Time spent viewing is best measured with eye tracking. Just because the TV is turned on does not translate to viewing. My bet is that eyes-on-screen is declining for POTV (plain old TV), as tablets distract us.

  2. Diane Yeamans from Midco, April 11, 2014 at 9:27 a.m.

    Please remember -- There is a difference between having an HDTV set and having HDTV service. The way this is written assumes they are the same. HDTV sets are the only thing on the new set market. But not everyone actually rents the set-top boxes for HDTV service. If this difference is included in this research, please share it. Thanks.

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