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In U.S., Hi-Def TV Household Penetration Tops 23%

2 minute read | December 2008

Almost one-quarter of all U.S. television households (23.3%) own a high definition TV set as of Nov. 30, Nielsen reported Thursday.

Nielsen’s estimates are based on a field staff review that identified TV sets capable of receiving and displaying high definition pictures, as well as those that are actually receiving those signals.

High definition TV penetration in the U.S. has more than doubled since July 2007, when Nielsen began tracking HDTV status.  At that time, only 10% of U.S. homes had access to high definition TV.

Month/Year% of U.S. Households


November 200823.3%
October 200822.2%
September 200821.3%
August 200820.4%
July 200819.6%
June 200818.9%
May 200818.1%
April 200817.1%
March 200816.2%
February 200815.3%
January 200814.5%
December 200713.5%
November 200712.8%
October 200712.1%
September 200711.3%
August 200710.5%
July 200710.0%
Source: The Nielsen Company (July 1, 2007 – November 30, 2008).

Washington, D.C., where 31.1% of homes are HDTV-enabled, has the highest HDTV penetration of Nielsen’s 18 largest local TV markets.  Boston and New York follow, with HDTV penetrations of 30.5% and 30.2%, respectively.  Detroit has the lowest HDTV penetration: 20.9% of homes.

Top 18

Nielsen Local TV


% Households In Market


(November 2008)

Washington, DC (Hagerstown)31.1%
Boston (Manchester)30.5%
New York30.2%
Los Angeles28.9%
San Francisco-Oak-San Jose26.8%
Tampa-St. Pete (Sarasota)26.7%
Dallas-Ft. Worth25.0%
Cleveland – Akron23.6%
Minneapolis – St. Paul21.6%
Miami-Ft. Lauderdale21.4%
Total U.S.23.3%
Source: The Nielsen Company (November 30, 2008).

Sporting events have the highest index of viewing in HDTV households, with HDTV receivable and capable homes watching 54% more sports than households that are not HDTV capable.  Political programming and awards shows are also popular with HDTV households.

View the full press release.

Read coverage of Nielsen’s findings on Contentinople.com and in Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News, and Media Post,

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