Almost Quarter Of Households Get HDTV

HDTV sales have risen in recent months.

More than twice as many homes are watching HDTV programming as they did 18 months ago.

That's according to Nielsen, which Thursday pegged HDTV penetration at 23.3% of U.S. households compared to 10% when it began tracking the figure in July 2007.

Nilesen senior VP, client research, Shawn McGowan attributed the rise to lower prices for sets, more HD programming and the impetus of the approaching DTV transition date of Feb. 17, 2009.

Washington, D.C., had the highest penetration rates among the largest markets at 31.1%, followed closely by Boston at 30.5% and New York at 30.2%. Detroit had the lowest at 20.9%.

Sports is the most popular HDTV programming, with HDTV viewers watching 54% more sports. But folks apparently like to get a good look at their elected officials, with HDTV viewers watching 25% more political programming than folks without HDTVs.

The numbers are from data collected from its 56 metered markets as of Nov. 30.

According to a Nielsen spokeswoman,  the data collection is confined to the metered markets so that Nielsen can have staffers confirm that folks are actually watching HD on HD sets, rather than seeing the "broadcast in HD" graphic at the beginning of a show and thinking they are watching HD on their 1973 zenith TV set..