Market research firm NPD has stated (according to a report by TWICE) that about 46 percent of USA television households now have HDTVs. 34 percent have only one HDTV, and 13 percent have two or more. So depending on how you look at it, the HDTV glass for US viewers is either half empty or half full.
We’ve had free digital broadcasts of HDTV as well as HD content on cable and satellite for several years now. As repeatedly mentioned here, the amount of available HD programming is growing rapidly (though some might say that some of it is not worth watching). And yet, less than half of the households have even one HDTV.
Note also that the NPD figures cited do not apparently report how many of those installed HDTVs have a high definition signal source. As of about a year ago, about half of them didn’t. And half of those with HDTVs but without high definition signals back then reported that they thought that they were watching HD.
I suspect that the allure of a “flat panel” is probably at least as strong as the desire for high definition, with some confusion about the digital TV broadcast transition thrown in as an added incentive to scrap the old picture tube set. As a result, I expect to see HDTV penetration slow down over the next few years. In spite of the falling prices, a lot of people still have a hard time getting rid of a perfectly good picture tube set just so that they can spend many hundreds of dollars — if not a couple thousand — on a flat panel set to replace it. Most of those who can afford to make the switch probably have already done so.
So the HDTV glass is half full, but we may have to be satisfied with less than a full glass for quite a while.