Study: HDTV has room for improvement


BRUSSELS -- Pay TV broadcasters need to drastically improve their high-definition services. So says a survey published Tuesday, which reveals that only a bare minority of HDTV owners actually subscribes to a specialized HDTV package.

The survey by ABI Research shows that just 56% of HD-ready TV owners have purchased an HD service package.

"Pay TV operators need to close this gap by highlighting what HDTV owners without an HD package are missing out on," ABI senior analyst Cesar Bachelet said. The survey, which measured consumer viewing and content purchasing habits, nonetheless found that a substantial 41% of TV owners had an HD television.

HDTV services were first launched four years ago, promising a revolution in broadcasting quality through improved audio, widescreen and crisp, clear images up to four times as sharp as standard broadcasts. But HDTV is going through growing pains, as there is still a dearth of authentic HD programming on the dedicated channels.

The ABI survey also found that 66% of consumers subscribe to some form of pay TV service and, of those, 60% receive at least one additional service such as telephone or Internet from their provider. In addition, while 45% of viewers say that they use pay-per-view, most do so just once a month or less.

"Low PPV use poses a key challenge for pay TV operators," Bachelet said.

Generally, interest in "next generation" TV services is low -- although greater in younger viewers -- with the one exception being the ability to move content sourced from the Internet to the TV.

A significant chunk of users own digital video recorders, the survey found, and Bachelet said this could represent an opportunity for alliances with games console manufacturers -- such as IPTV services through Xbox 360 -- for online content/gaming services.