The Leichtman Research Group recently conducted a phone survey that showed 18 percent of HDTV owners think they're watching high-definition shows, when, in fact, they're viewing standard-definition programming.
I'm not sure exactly what questions LRG asked and how it arrived at that 18 percent figure, but I can tell you that I spent part of my New Year's Eve this year confronting and rectifying a non-HD situation just in time to see the ball drop in Times Square in HD.
This is not the first HDTV I've rescued from the standard-def dungeon. It's happened a few other times in the last couple of years. The conversation usually starts like this (and usually involves a large-screen LCD or plasma for which someone paid a fair chunk of change):
"Dude, what do you think? Pretty good, huh? I got the one you guys (CNET) recommended."
I look at the TV and there seems to be something a little off about it. I move closer and say:
"You have HD?"
"Yeah," he replies, pointing to the cable box sitting underneath the TV.
I tell him to turn it to an HD channel. Something in the 700s (the HD channels for Time Warner Cable in New York are all in the 700s).
"I have it on an HD channel."
For good measure, I have him turn to 702, CBS HD. (Now that we're owned by CBS, I always tell people to go to CBS HD first. Naturally.)
"Dude," I say, "you're not watching HDTV."
"No, you are not."