America has spoken: high-definition television has taken its place, alongside friends and food as one of the most important factors for Super Bowl viewing. In a recent survey, more than a quarter of Americans said that HDTV has become one of the most critical elements of the Super Bowl experience. The results of the poll, conducted by ICR/International Communications Research on behalf of Comcast, the country's leading cable, entertainment and communications company, also show that, for men, watching the game in high definition (34%) is as important as the food (37%).
High Def is the Name of the Game
When asked which type of play they would most like to see in high definition, respondents ranked the touchdown pass (26%) first, with an interception return (19%) coming in close behind. A high-definition quarterback sack (12%) ranked third; a popular choice likely influenced by the crystal clear "crunch" that comes with Dolby 5.1 surround sound. As for the various elements viewed during the Super Bowl, fans listed the game (33%), the halftime show (25%) and instant replays (17%) as the things they most looked forward to watching in high definition. By gender, men placed cheerleaders second (21%), only after the game itself (38%), while women look forward to watching the halftime show (37%) in high definition as much as the game (28%).
Broken Records and Replays of Replays
Who did respondents want to see in the Big Game, on the big screen, in six times greater clarity? It appears there is a direct correlation between the desire to see a touchdown pass in high definition and the quarterback who set the single season NFL record for touchdown passes. Peyton Manning (Indianapolis Colts) was the runaway winner with 20 percent of the vote. The rest of the pack was even, garnering 14-15 percent each, and included Michael Vick (Atlanta Falcons), Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers), Tom Brady (New England Patriots) and Donovan McNabb (Philadelphia Eagles).
If given the chance to view the Super Bowl using a Comcast digital video recorder (DVR), "armchair officials" said the reverse and replay function would be used most often to watch replays of replays (28%) and scrutinize touchdowns (28%). After those two responses, fans said that the game's legendary commercials (16%) would get the most replay action.
Getting into the (High Def) Zone
Heading into 2005, consumers are extremely excited about HDTV; however, many consumers still are unclear about what's needed to enjoy the HD experience. The Super Bowl HDTV survey follows an HDTV awareness survey conducted by Comcast in December that asked consumers their impressions and understanding of HDTV. In that survey, 40 percent of respondents said that they didn't know if "just plugging in" an HDTV would bring high-definition programming to their living rooms.
To help address questions consumers may have as they consider adding HDTV to their Super Bowl experience, Comcast offers the following tips:
- The stands are filling up. The total number of HDTVs shipped to retailers should hit 13.8 million by the end of this year. That number is nearly double the 7.8 million HD sets shipped from 1998 until the end of 2003. (Consumer Electronics Association)
- Count the threads on the pigskin. For the ultimate viewing experience, HDTV offers six times the picture clarity of traditional analog. HDTV provides the clearest picture available today.
- Don't mistake a bench-sitter for a franchise player. To get HDTV's crystal clarity, make sure the digital television carries an HDTV resolution of either 720p (progressive) – better for smaller sets – or 1080i (interlaced) – best for big screens.
- Read the scouting report. Make sure you understand what HD programming your service provider can offer and what equipment is needed. Questions to ask include: Are premium movie channels available in high definition? Is there an extra charge for these? Is ON DEMAND included and available in high definition? Does any special equipment need to be purchased to receive or record HD programs?
- Get the homefield advantage. Only cable can provide local channels in HD. A high-definition channel requires about five times the bandwidth of a standard definition channel and, right now, that's too much for satellite to handle.
- Pick up a hot prospect. Digital Video Recorders can be included in a Comcast HD subscription. With a DVR, consumers can pause and rewind live action on the television to create personal replays and can easily record all their favorite programs in HD.
- The "Digital Team" gets more popular every year. Programming in HD has grown considerably in just the last few years. For example, Comcast's HDTV service includes high-definition broadcasts of most major networks, ESPN, Discovery HD Theater, HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, STARZ!, INHD and INHD2 as well as several regional sports networks.
The Super Bowl is not the only thing fans want to watch in high definition. HD movies are also a hot ticket, and fans overwhelmingly chose Remember the Titans as the football film they would most like to see in high definition (29%). The second choice for men was On Any Given Sunday (20%) and, for women, Jerry McGuire (18%).
"The Super Bowl has become one of the primary drivers for consumer investment in home entertainment equipment and watching the game in HD is the next best thing to sitting on the 50-yard line in Jacksonville," said Dave Watson, executive vice president of operations for Comcast. "Consumers have many choices when it comes to buying an HD television – from the type of sets available for purchase, to the growing amount of programming available, some of which are unique to cable. We want to help consumers navigate through the many buying choices available today and make it as easy as possible to enjoy the HD experience."
Comcast "Special Teams" Ready to Go
As consumers prepare for Super Bowl Sunday, Comcast has a presence in nearly 1,000 retail locations and representatives are available at many of those sites to help answer questions about HDTVs and HD service. Visitors to Comcast's website (www.comcast.com) also can access an HD tutorial with Frequently Asked Questions and an HD demo, as well as sign-up for service online.
The Comcast survey was conducted by ICR/International Communications Research of Media, PA, between December 27 and 31, 2004, using a random nationwide sample of 750 households. The results are based on the responses of households with televisions.
Comcast Corporation (www.comcast.com) is principally involved in the development, management and operation of broadband cable networks, and in the provision of programming content. The Company is the largest provider of cable and broadband services in the United States, serving more than 21 million cable television customers and more than 6 million high-speed Internet customers. The Company's content businesses include majority ownership of Comcast Spectacor, Comcast SportsNet, E! Entertainment Television, Style Network, G4techTV, The Golf Channel, International Channel and Outdoor Life Network. Comcast Class A common stock and Class A Special common stock trade on The Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbols CMCSA and CMCSK, respectively.