Wednesday, August 19, 2009

HDTVs in More than Half of All U.S. Homes.

From the Markertek News Feed, August 13, 2009:

A recent Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) tracking Pulse report shows strong growth over the past year in HDTV ownership. In 2009, 53 percent of total U.S. households report owning a high definition television, an 18 percentage point increase in ownership over 2008, when 35 percent of households reported owning an HDTV (23 percent in 2007). Among HDTV set owners, 69 percent now subscribe to high definition service, compared to 56 percent a year ago. Ownership of large screen televisions –32 inches and larger – has also seen solid growth. In 2009, 59 percent of households owned one, up from 52 percent in 2008 (44 percent in 2007). The CTAM tracking study also took a look at recent movers and which technologies they are likely to purchase and services they’re likely to subscribe to over the next year. Movers are more likely than non-movers to buy an HDTV set (26 percent vs. 15 percent), a laptop (24 percent vs. 16 percent), and a video game system (23 percent vs. 7 percent); as well as subscribe to HD programming service (15 percent vs. 8 percent) and DVR service (17 percent vs. 7 percent). The CTAM research is based on a telephone survey conducted by CENTRIS as part of the CENTRIS omnibus survey conducted from June 5 through 14, 2009. The sample includes 1,144 randomly selected adult consumers age 18+. The study has a +/- 3.5 percentage point margin of error.

What does this mean for our clients? Even if you're not planning on producing in full HD yet, switching from the old 4x3 screen aspect ratio to the more pleasing 16x9 aspect ratio is no longer a tough decision. More than half of the TVs that will be playing your videos will be in a wide screen aspect. This ratio is more attractive, makes for pleasing compositions, and is just expected.

We would have to look for another report, but smart money would bet that the 50% line has also been crossed for wide screen laptop and computer screens as well. YouTube and most other streaming sites support 16x9, and DVD players have always automatically letterboxed images based on user selection. Unless there is a very specific reason, it is time to abandon 4x3 and go wide screen!