94% of UK will own HDTVs by 2016

But HD programme penetration will lag behind, according to Freeview customer estimations
Adam Smith
Adam Smith -


How many High Definition capable TV sets are out there across the globe?

A blog post from analyst Adam Thomas at Informa Telecoms & Media has thrown some light on the matter, and other relating points.

IT&M’s stats estimate that by the end of 2011, almost a quarter of the world’s primary TV sets will be HDTVs. That’s up from just 3% in 2005.

60 million HDTVs are expected to be sold to households across the globe this year.

The projection is that by 2016, half of the world’s homes will have an HDTV, 48% to be precise. The UK will be well above that average, with 94% of UK households expected to have an HD set in five years time.

That’ll actually put the UK third in the world rankings of HDTV penetration, only behind New Zealand and Canada on 95%.

Currently, 81% of UK households have an HDTV.

Thomas notes that: “Owning an HD-ready set does not, of course, automatically mean reception of HD programming. But, by 2016, 70% of the world’s homes with HD sets are forecast to be using them to watch HD programs.”

“Again, the UK is ahead of the game, with 72% of HD-ready homes expected to watch HD programming by 2016. But this time it is well behind the global leader, which is the US at 91%.”

Why is the UK behind (in 25th place to be precise)? Due to the fact that Freeview is so widespread, and forecast to have just half its users watching HD programmes come 2016.

Thomas also observes that in five years time, there will be TV services in several countries – the US, Belgium and Sweden leading in terms of HD programming penetration – where the majority of users are watching HD content.

He comments: “This raises the interesting prospect of a second wave of switchovers after 2016, with standard definition being switched off and HD effectively becoming the new standard definition.”

“The extra capacity freed up by such a move would then raise the possibility of another generation of SuperHD appearing, which would offer an enhancement to what will, by then, have become standard HD.”

Of course, SuperHD will bring about its own issues – will it be saleable to people in the near-ish future, given that some will have only relatively recently upgraded to HD for the better picture quality? “Honest, this is even ‘superer’ HD…”

Plus there are practical issues, such as the storage space on hard drives which the sort of massive resolution footage SuperHD boasts will gobble up. Although of course, all technology will have moved on in five years time.

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