Thursday, October 4, 2007

HDTV Needs Quality and Quantity

From the desk of Lee Distad's Professional Opinion:

According to a survey conducted by Nielsen, consumers who have bought a high definition television are happy as clams with the picture quality of their sets, but not nearly as pleased with the availability of programming that’s actually in HD.

HDTV Customers Are Happy with Picture Quality, Less Enthusiastic About Programming Options, Nielsen Finds
New York, October 3, 2007 -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 HD programming, The Nielsen Company reported today.
According to Nielsen Media Research’s 2007 High Definition Survey, 85 percent of HD owners gave a 4 or 5 rating (with 5 meaning “excellent” and 1 meaning “poor”) for picture quality but only 39 percent provided the same rating for programming selection.

The issue of quality and quantity of HD programming is something that I’ve been following from the beginning. Back in the dawn of HD (~1998-99 or so, my memory gets hazy in my old age) I used to quip that HD was format without content. It’s validated to find that my opinion has become mainstream.

Before I come across as too mean-spirited, let me say that we’ve got a pretty good assortment of programming now, but I do expect it to get better with time. Consumers who have just jumped into an HD purchase are dissatisfied with the amount of content because they expect everything to be in HD, all day, every day. By contrast, long time industry watchers like me can remember when Bell had one HD channel; so from our longer perspective, the amount of content feels like a bounty.

That said, I do side with the sentiments of the people who want more. The fact is, the networks typically are only really HD during prime time, and the rest of the time is plain standard definition. So if you want to see your dramas and sitcoms in HD when you want to see them, you really ought to buy an HD receiver with a built-in PVR.

What gives me the most HD joy is sports and educational programming. Hockey on CBC-HD is fantastic, not to mention football. One of the best sales demonstrations I ever had wasn’t in the showroom, but two years ago at a buddy’s house. I did his projector and 100-inch screen a year or two prior, and he invited all his family and friends over for Grey Cup, the first time that it was broadcast in HD. His extended family is in the oil business, and after that party, they kept me busy for nearly a year creating their systems.

If you’re someone who hasn’t yet dived into HDTV, take in a few nature or educational shows in HD. You’re sure to end up closer to taking the plunge. Over the past few years, PBS has been a huge force in creating entertaining HD content. Now with Discovery HD, National Geographic HD, and so on, it’s almost as good as actually being there. Not to mention cooking shows. My god, cooking shows in HD, especially mid afternoon between lunch and dinner, are practically pornography!

To conclude, while overall I would say that I am pretty happy with how much HD I have access to, like the average consumer, I would certainly like to see more! (For more of Lee Distad's Professional Opinions)

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