Nielsen: HD Usage Rises In U.S.

More than 10% of U.S. homes are receiving HD channels, according to new data from Nielsen. The research firm said that 11.3% (12.7 million) of the 112.8 million U.S. TV homes not only have HD sets, but have activated the service to receive the more pristine feed. Some 13.7% of homes have HD-compatible TVs, so the "turn on" rate is significant.

The country's largest market, New York, has almost one in five homes (17.5%) receiving HD channels. And the vast majority of New Yorkers who have bought the expensive HD-compatible sets are ordering packages with the channels (18.1% have the sets, 17.5% have the service).

The considerable distribution of homes with HD service is good news for cable operators. They can charge more for HD service--and perhaps more so for DirecTV--which is betting it can gain subscribers by promoting a second-to-none lineup of HD channels, a predicted 100 by year's end.

It's unclear whether the growing rollout of sets receiving HD channels will prompt more advertisers to shoot commercials in high-def. Except for events such as the Super Bowl, some have balked due to higher costs, among other issues. Ads not shot in HD that appear on HD channels can potentially have a negative effect, since they don't always fill up the entire width of the screen, and the picture and sound quality differ from the programming.

Los Angeles tops New York in the number of homes with sets that can receive HD channels with 20.4% (1.2 million), but only 965,000 homes have the channels piped in.

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