HDTV Viewers Happy with Pic Quality, Not so Much with Programming

October 5, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Broadcast & Cable | Media & Entertainment | Men | Technology | Television | Women

High definition (HD) television owners are much more satisfied with the picture quality of HD television than they are with the amount or selection of available HD programming, according to Nielsen Media Research’s “2007 High Definition Survey.”

Some 85% of HD owners gave a 4 or 5 rating (5 meaning “excellent”; 1 meaning “poor”) for picture quality, but only 39% provided the same ratings for programming selection, Nielsen said.


According to the study:

  • Women were slightly more positive about HD picture quality than men -and there was no difference among cable vs. satellite subscribers.
  • Respondents, in general, were less happy with the actual number of HD channels they receive – fewer than 40% were somewhat or very satisfied with the amount or selection of HD programming.
  • Women and older respondents – ages 50+ – were most positive, while those with an HD-DVR unit were least satisfied with the HD channel selection.

“HD technology is outpacing content, although a few networks do score high in consumer satisfaction,” said Steve McGowan, Nielsen SVP of Client Research Initiatives. “Television owners clearly feel that HD viewing is a more intense experience than standard television and there are early indications that the acquisition of an HD television can, initially at least, stimulate the type of television that is viewed.”

Reported TV viewership:

  • Sports and movies are the categories most frequently watched in HD, with only 12% of respondents saying they never watch movies in HD at home.


  • Music and reality shows are the least frequently watched HD content.


  • ESPN HD was the most popular sports channel.
  • Discovery HD was the most watched channel for documentaries.
  • HBO HD was the most watched channel for movies.

Other findings from the study:

  • There was no runaway winner in terms of which network provides the “best picture,” but among HD networks Discovery HD Theater ranked first (12.7%); CBS HD and NBC HD tied for second.
  • Nearly one-fifth (19.7%) of respondents reported that they watch more TV since they got their HD set.
  • Consumers continue to embrace television as an entertainment platform and many are investing in sophisticated home theater centers, with a HD television as the centerpiece: Nearly three-fourths of respondents placed a set in the family/living room (74%).
  • More than half (60%) of respondents get their HD signals from a cable provider and nearly another one-third (31%) from a satellite provider.
  • Only about 6% reported receiving HD signals via an antenna or over the air.
  • Comcast, DirecTV and Time Warner were the three largest distributors reported among participants.
  • Over one-third of respondents report getting at least one premium pay channel, led by HBO, Showtime and Starz!

About the study: Nielsen Media Research conducted a telephone survey with 511 respondents from June 28 to July 10, 2007 to learn how satisfied HD owners are with their TV set as well as the HD programming they receive. Respondents were previously identified through a telephone omnibus survey as HD set owners who also receive HD content.

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