A recent study of high-definition (HD) TV ownership and viewing behaviors by Frank N. Magid Associates reveals the continuing disparity between HDTV set ownership and service adoption.

In the wake of the digital transition that drove unprecedented adoption of HDTV sets, 43 percent, or approximately 49 million households in the United States own an HDTV set, according to Magid. But 14 million of these households have no HDTV programming service.

"The disparity between HDTV ownership and service adoption reveals challenges for programmers," said Maryann Baldwin, VP of Magid Media Futures, in a statement. "Some consumers were driven to purchase HDTVs under the erroneous assumption that they would be prepared for the digital transition – and didn’t buy an HDTV set for the value of the programming in the first place."

While HD programming service still lags significantly behind set adoption, HD programming service providers have made progress, with 43 percent of buyers arranging for service when they bought their set, up from an average of 32 percent in the past 5 years.

However, service providers have not demonstrated the value of HDTV service to the one third of "sideliners" – those who own an HDTV set but don’t subscribe to HDTV service. Forty-two percent of sideliners admit that "options are not worth the fees," and one third cite cost and affordability as the primary reasons for not buying service. Consumers are increasingly satisfied with HDTV sets simply for the design, with 32 percent saying they "like the way the set looks; don’t need HD programming" compared to 25 percent in 2008.

The online survey was conducted in October 2009 using a nationally representative sample of 1,373 adults age 21 years or more who own an HDTV set.

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