Is High Definition the next greatest thing? According to Nielsen, and contrary to the CEA, Hi Def penetration is low, only 13.7% of TV households. And most likely, those homes may have multiple TVs, but only 1 may be HDTV. It seems to suggest that content owners need not rush to convert their programming or their channels to the HD format.
More interesting is the fact that the Consumer Electronic Association has measured that same penetration at over 32% of all households. That difference amounts to over 21 million homes that may or may not be HDTV homes.
The CEA believes that difference between their figure and Nielsen is how to define a HDTV household. Those with an HDTV set, but not connected to a converter box able to show an HDTV signal would not count in the Nielsen number. Per B&C, "The CEA’s own research, in fact, indicated that in 2007, only 44% of HDTV owners are actually receiving HD programming."
My own household falls into that mix. We have a HDTV set in the kitchen, but connected directly to the cable wire to the wall; no box. Why - the converter box takes up too much room, and the picture, even if not HD, looks great. In fact, if I could network all my sets to one HD server in the garage, I would upgrade all my sets to HD now. The boxes are space hogs and unsightly.
Most importantly though should not be how many are out there now, but how many will there be in 3 months, 1 year, 5 years, etc. Consumers love the thin ergonomic look for the HD screen, they love the improved picture, and they will continue to purchase HDTV sets. So I would be most interested in the expected growth, because HD is not going away.