Sales people love to show consumers how much better their TV shows will be with a big, beautiful, expensive HDTV screen. Turns out though that as many as 50% get SD content on their HD set…but they’re happy.

Content Insider #102 – Looking to HDTV

THE Insider

Content Insider #102 – Looking to HDTV
High Def TV Is In the Eye of the Beholder

Author: THE Insider

See The Difference – Sales people love to show consumers how much better their TV shows will be with a big, beautiful, expensive HDTV screen. Turns out though that as many as 50% get SD content on their HD set…but they’re happy. Photo Source – Touchstone

“The government's been in bed with the entire communications industry since the forties. They've infected everything.” – Brill (Gene Hackman), Enemy of the State (1998)

Travel to even the most remote parts of the world.

Visit some of the worst hovels.

You’ll see a TV set.

People may barely have the necessities but they do have their entertainment (escape) hours.

Television is the common bond across all income levels…all walks of life.

More than 1.150 million households have at least one TV set.

Figure 1 - Big Switch – Now that the CE manufacturers have convinced us that Tellywood delivers all the entertainment you’ll ever want in the privacy of your own home, they are ready to show you there’s a newer/better/more expensive route. It’s called digital TV that frees up their bandwidth. Source – iSuppli

A few countries have switched from analog to digital content distribution.

For most it is still a work in progress.

In the U.S. the transition started about 10 years ago, gained momentum last year, will be completed by February of 2009 …or else.

Never mind the CEA’s facts that:

  • It required five years to achieve 10% household penetration of B&W, another year for 25% and a total of 9 years for 50% household penetration *
  • It took 14 years for color TV to reach 10% household penetration, 2 more years for 25% and 4 more years for 50% of the households

New Opportunities

Set manufacturers love the switch.

Retailers are happy.

Sales people will spin stories about the pros and cons of plasma vs LCD sets, the fantastic viewing experiences you will now enjoy, the benefits of family bonding with HighDef content.

They’ll explain the “important” differences between 480i/p, 720i/p, 1080i/p, 1440i/p.

Dude…it’s all about the picture.


Real HighDef – Admit it, some things really do look better in HighDef.
Especially Carmen Diaz on the Letterman show.

…and the price!

It’s not like the American home needs a new TV set. According to CTAM (Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing):

  • 99% of the US households have at least one TV set
  • 47% have 3 or more
  • 23% already have HDTV sets and 22% of these households have two or more HDTV sets

Like it or not next February stations across the country will broadcast nothing but digital signals.

As Dean (Will Smith) said… “Conspiracy theorists of the world unite.”

So if you haven’t stumbled into a store already…now may be the time.

Just don’t expect a lot of meaningful advice.


Online Research First

Do your own research like our wife who found tons of information to carefully consider including:

Now you have to decide if you:

  • want to obtain a digital-to-analog converter (taking advantage of your government’s discount coupon)
  • subscribe to cable or satellite*
  • replace your antenna and get free OTA HD content
  • do like our son and go the Internet TV Plus route

At the January Consumer Electronics Show (CES) we saw a dizzying array of options.

Panasonic set the bar real high with their gigantic 150-inch Plasma screen.


Big, Beautiful – Panasonic took bragging rights for screen size at CES this year. Impressive but the truth is set manufacturers are making most of their money by selling significantly smaller screens.

We could just see the wife when we told her we were going to knock out a wall in the house to install that little baby.

It wouldn’t become the centerpiece of a new home theater, we’d have to knock out the wall to the garage and have our own drive-in!

Admit it. The luxurious home theater set-ups look fantastic in the magazines.

They also looked expensive.

The home theater market is growing steadily as people spend more and more time watching TV.

According to Neilsen:

  • in 1995 – 1996 families watched TV for 7:15 and 2005-2006 8:14
  • individuals in the same years went from 3:59 to 4:35


Figure 2 - Pass the Popcorn -- When you’re really serious about your TV and DVD viewing nothing fits the bill like a big, beautiful home theater. Sales and installations are showing excellent growth. Source – Parks Assoc


Someone is watching our share!

If you decide you’re simply going to buy a converter box, don’t forget the $40 coupon.

Can’t find yours?

Go to That will show you where to find a store in your area that offers the coupons and the converter boxes.

Getting the boxes delivered and coupons printed is still a “work in progress.”

So if you’re going to go that route don’t wait till the last minute.


Everything Entertainment Almost

We’re so beyond that.

For a couple of years we’ve been trying to figure out how to have a single home entertainment solution without parking a PC in the living room.

It’s still a “work in progress.”

The advanced services people tell you are almost here are coming…slowly.


Figure 3 - Active Entertainment – Driven largely by people’s experience with Web 2.0 ITV and instant communications cellphones, consumers expect their television viewing to be just as interactive. Bringing the communications and entertainment experience together is still a work in progress. Source – Microsoft

There still isn’t a non-PC PC solution available that will appeal to folks who don’t have/don’t want home PCs as well as the technogeek who wants it all at the touch of the remote control button.

Options are on the horizon.

Pipe owners and content amalgamators (not owners) who get there early will have a decided advantage…this is a space that needs to be watched.


In our household we have another faction.

Our son doesn’t exactly believe TV is a government conspiracy…but close.

He’s got his notebook computer, a fantastic 24-inch LCD monitor and internet connectivity.

Like most kids he never knew life without the Internet. His generation doesn’t worry much about privacy because …it’s all out there.

He’s not paranoid like Brill… “The more technology used, the easier it is for them to keep tabs on you.”


Kids Internet-Ready

He just looks at you and says…”Yeah…so?”

Globally notebooks are increasingly being used like his -- work/communications/entertainment – everything!


Figure 4 - Multiple Purposes – With the sale of notebook computers surpassing those of desktop systems, people are also finding that the portable devices can be used for more than just work and personal storage. Millions of entertainment files are posted on the Web around the globe delivering the new form and freedom of online entertainment. Source -- IDC


All the systems are video ready…game ready…music ready…photo ready…

Content on the Web is available from everyone!

In fact there’s more TV stuff online than OTA!

Just the other night we visited him in his room (you do that with kids…visit them) and watched a Larry, Curly & Moe classic on his system “Slowly I turned…”

Try finding that on one of your gazillion cable channels.

It was damn good too!!!


Closet TVers

Now he also cheats – just a little. He got a Pinnacle PCTV HD stick to watch “educational” shows between classes.


Growing Entertainment Screen – Your desktop and notebook monitor is already a HDTV screen and a growing number of people are finding the entertainment content they want on the Web. If they want OTA content they can grab it on the go.


He doesn’t use it a lot because of all of his other online choices.

But thank gawd he’s not totally anti-TV…just a closet TVer.

He just refused to buy into standard TV logic…you will watch their stuff, on their cable, at their times.

The dynamic relationship between broadband access, broadband content and broadband consumption has changed the TV viewing landscape.

Makes it tough for networks, stations and cable providers to charge for eyeballs like the good old days!

According to a recent ComScore report the total landscape is changing:

  • 69% of Americans find PCs more entertaining than TVs
  • 47% engage more with TV ads online
  • Americans are choosing smaller, not larger TV sets
  • 50% of US households have digital TV
  • 38% of US consumers watch TV shows online
  • 30% of cable subscribers would drop cable if shows were available online

Even as online content becomes more compelling there will still be a lot of big screens sold:

  • 102.5M LCD TVs will be sold this year
  • 105M satellite, cable, IPTV subscribers WW
  • 13.7% of Americans have HDTV
  • 144B DTVs will sell by 2011
  • 75% of HDTVs sold in 2011 will be LCDs
  • 85% of HDTV owners are happy with the picture
  • China exported 39.5M TVs in 2007 with 38.3M sold domestically
  • Flat panel TV sales exceeded $100B in ‘07

Bottom line is we’re going to have a lot more video entertainment options from both content developers and channel partners. All they have to do is learn how to monetize it.

They just have to remember Brill’s advice, “Well, if they're big and you're small, then you're mobile and they're slow. You're hidden and they're exposed. You only fight battles you know you can win.”

All we have to do is learn how to get more time to watch the stuff!

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