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U.S. HDTV Watching

U.S. Watches More Than 80-Percent of TV in Standard Def

I think it actually just comes down to the fact that while a lot of Americans went out and bought HDTVs, a good percentage of them haven’t the slightest idea about how to hook them up. It doesn’t help when places like Best Buy convince people that they have to have a way overpriced $80 cable in order to experience HD, which simply isn’t true. Do they need the appropriate cables? Yes. Do the cables need to be priced at $80? Hell no. In fact, I can order 15 higher quality cables online for the same price as one from Best Buy or sometimes even Walmart.  But if you ask somebody at Best Buy, they’ll tell you that you need that $80 cable to have the best HD experience (FYI, you don’t, especially where HDMI is concerned; digital is digital, i.e. if you see a picture you are getting the highest quality, even with a cheap $4 cable).

I’ve heard many times about people just using what cables they had lying around when hooking up a new HDTV. Since the picture looks better than their old set most of the time, these people assumed they were watching HD, especially on channels like NBC/CBS/FOX/etc. where a little icon says “Broadcast in HD”.  What’s happening is really just a little misunderstanding, but while I think the consumer is a little bit at fault for not researching new technology before purchasing, most of the fault belongs to the electronic manufacturers and the stores which sell them.

Basically, I think there would be a higher HD adoption rate if electronics were bundled more often with HDMI or at least component cables. It used to be true that you always got the necessary cables bundled in with the player/set-top box/etc, but in order to cut costs a lot of manufacturers either don’t include a cable at all or they just include the most basic SD cables (traditional red-white-yellow). Since a lot of people don’t understand the newer technology (for a variety of reasons), they get mislead.  Here’s a device with a bunch of ports on the back, most of which they can’t identify; more often than not, they are just going to look around, find a cable that matches the colors or simply fits, and plug it into the TV.  Huzzah, a picture will likely appear, so now they can finally check out this new “Blue Ray” stuff that people are talking about.

That was a overgeneralized example, true, and there are many people who will at least question whether or not they have their new TV hooked up correctly.  But while many people will question, the first person they ask will often be the last person they should go to, i.e. the salesperson.  Oh, the salesperson can answer your questions, and I’m sure they’ll have on hand what you “need”.  They’ll spin a web about interference, gold plated connectors, shielded cabling, and all manner of stuff until you are convinced that the only way that precious HD signal will make it to your TV intact is by purchasing a $80 cable, which is of course on top of the cost for a new HDTV, and oh, did you hear about our wonderful protection plans?  It always amuses me that they simultaneously try to convince you that they sell the best TVs around but that said TVs could break at a moment’s notice so you’ll need a protection plan.

::sigh::  A little knowledge can go a long way, but the industry doesn’t seem to be all that interested in educating the average consumer.  Rather, the industry is more about making money however they can.  It does make sense, of course, but it only makes sense if you look at the short term gain.  You might get a consumer to purchase a overpriced cable this time, but that person is going to remember.  They are going to remember that while they paid $100 for that Blu-ray player, it cost them $80 to hook it up, so they are going to be less likely to purchase a second player for another room.  If you convince people that it takes a overpriced cable to hook things up, odds are they aren’t going to purchase as much, and worse they’ll tell their friends.  However, if you make the cables a lot cheaper or better yet just bundle them in with the player, people will be more likely to adopt the new technology. You don’t convince someone they need to purchase one $200 item, rather you give them a reason why they should buy three $100 items, which also gives them a reason to come back and buy many $20 items (i.e. the movies themselves; get them to place a player in a kid’s room and you can possibly double your movie sales).

Ah, well.