HDTV Penetration by the Numbers

There’s no doubt that the market for HDTV sets continues to grow, but it’s difficult to gain a consensus on just how many homes will house HD sets by the end of the decade.

Data released last week by Leichtman Research Group Inc. and Kagan Research LLC said that with dropping prices and the availability of more enhanced format content, more than one in two households will own HDTV sets by the end of 2010.

Leichtman projected that 55% of U.S. households will have at least one HD-capable set by that point, while Kagan was more bullish, estimating an 82% penetration rate.

"At the end of 2004, there were 11 million HD households, each owning an average of 1.2 HD sets,” Kagan Research associate Patrick Johnson said in a prepared statement. ”We project that the average price of an HD set will decline some 38% by 2010, reducing the average price to $1,139. Rapid price declines, coupled with increasing levels of HD programming, will drive the number of HD households to nearly 97 million in 2010, penetrating more than 82% of total TV households.”

Somewhere in between are data compiled by JupiterResearch, which last month forecast that 63% of U.S. homes would have HDTV sets by decade’s end.

Elsewhere in its “The State of High Definition Television 2006” report, Kagan estimated that 9.1 million HD sets will be sold to consumers this year, compared with 3.4 million and 5.6 million bought in 2003 and 2004, respectively.

Kagan also found that the number of cable HD subscribers grew from 675,000 in 2003 to 2.3 million in 2004. That total is expected to grow to 3.8 million at the conclusion of the current year and to surpass the 30 million mark in 2010.

Leichtman’s “HDTV: Awareness, Interest and Intent to Purchase 2005” study was based on a survey of 1,300 households throughout the United States, and the company said the number of households with HDTV-capable sets rose 7% in the third quarter of 2004 and 12% at the end of this year’s third quarter.

Nielsen Media Research pegged the number of U.S. TV households for the 2005-06 season at 110.2 million.

Other Leichtman findings included:

• 89% of adults nationwide have heard of the format;

• Consumers reported spending an average of $1,600 for HDTV sets over the past year, down from $2,400 over a year ago; and

• 11% of non-HDTV owners expressed some interest in purchasing the equipment if it cost $1,000.