HD Viewers to Double between 2007 and 2008

The whole world is slowly upgrading to high-def. While many countries can't compete with the U.S. in terms of adoption speeds, they're still latching on at their own pace. Only two percent of homes around the world watched high-definition programing (not merely owned an HDTV) at the end of 2007, according to a study by Informa Telecoms & Media, but by the end of 2008, that number will have doubled to four percent, or 44 million homes.

By 2012, 179 million homes will watch HD programming (that's about sixteen percent). Its easy to pinpoint what's driving the trend: Pricing on HDTV sets and set-top boxes are falling like crazy. But why is the U.S. ahead of many other nations? Informa principal media analyst Simon Murray offers a theory. While there's more HD content and even cheaper HDTVs available in the U.S., its "also because the picture and audio quality of standard definition programming is relatively poor." Ouch.

Americans are faced with two choices - suffer through shoddy standard-def, or pay up for decent quality. Murray says that once a carrier begins offering at least 20 high-def channels, people really start watching. -Rachel Rosmarin