HD Special Report: High Definition Can Still Sparkle...Even In This Economy

The financial meltdown hasn't stopped TV programmers from upgrading to HD or debuting new networks to bulk up distributors' HD menus. And the CEA maintains that sales of all electronics will increase 3.5% in the fourth quarter, including HD.
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This was the holiday season when analysts predicted that sales of high-definition televisions would

take another sharp jump—until the financial meltdown. Now, with retailers bracing for slow holidays and consumers cutting back on bigticket purchases, high-definition TV sales may be more undcertain.

But the slowdown isn’t stopping TV programmers from upgrading to HD or debuting new networks to bulk up distributors’ HD menus. And the Consumer Electronics Association maintains that sales of all electronics will increase 3.5% in the fourth quarter, including HD.

Related: B&C Chronicles How Media Companies Are Navigating the Economic Crisis

The Pictures Are the Story

Programmers and networks—from PBS with its stunning HD series Nature from WNET New York, to the venerable game show The Price Is Right on CBS—hope their array of content will entice more consumers to upgrade. They tout the improved picture and sound of HDTV. As the roster of HD programming continues to grow, here is a look at some recent innovations:

Web Sports Enters HD Arena

Ten years after U.S. networks began producing major league sports coverage in high-definition, HD sports has become ubiquitous. Now, networks and sports leagues are looking to bring the same experience to the Web by stepping up the quality of their online streaming, including the production of live HD streams for sports such as college football and basketball.

HD for the Holidays?

There will be a holiday gift-giving season in 2009 for consumer electronics after all, according to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), which is predicting a 3.5% increase in fourth-quarter sales of all electronics.

But some analysts believe that during this economic downturn, HD sales are slowing as the economy gets shakier.

HD Look for 'Live'

Starting in January, Disney-ABC's Live With Regis and Kelly will join the ranks of other top syndicated shows in both first-run and off-net by broadcasting in high-definition. Unlike Warner Bros., which built a new all-HD studio to house Ellen, Disney-ABC had a relatively easy time upgrading Live to HD, Gelman says.

Broadcasters Cry Foul on HD Squeeze

In an economy that is putting more lines of worry on broadcasters' faces than there are of resolution on an HDTV set, picture clarity could become a critical selling point and a path to differentiate channels in a way never seen in the analog age, broadcasters say. That's why some of those broadcasters are now smarting even more over last fall's FCC decision allowing cable operators to compress broadcasters' high-definition signals.

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