UK moving towards the next generation of ‘super’ HD viewing

Around 94 per cent of UK households will have a TV set capable of receiving high-definition (HD) programming by 2016, according to the latest forecasts from Informa Telecoms & Media. This compares favorably with the worldwide average of 48 per cent and puts the UK third globally, behind Canada and New Zealand (each with 95 per cent).

As recently as 2005, HDTV-ready sets were present in just three per cent of the world’s TV households and still seen as something of a novel technology. However, HD set sales are growing rapidly with a net 60 million households forecast to be added in 2011 alone. This means that 23 per cent of the world’s primary TV sets will be HD-ready by year-end.

Owning an HD-ready set does not, of course, automatically mean reception of HD programming. But, by 2016, 70 per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent. The UK lag is caused by the popularity of Freeview which is forecast to have only around half of its users watching HD programming by 2016.

* UK ranked 25th (38 per cent in 2011 rising to 72 per cent in 2016)

These numbers indicate that, by the end of the forecast period, TV services in several countries will be approaching the point where most, if not all, of their users are watching HD content. 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.

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