First it was going to be the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. Then, hopes shifted to this summer’s World Cup soccer championship. Over and over, broadcasters, producers, and TV makers have banked on a blockbuster sports event to kickstart European interest in high-definition TV, which offers sharply improved picture and sound quality. But so far, they have been disappointed.
Despite years of marketing efforts, only about 800,000 European households now receive HD programming, and only about 2 million homes own HD-ready TVs, compared with 11 million in Japan and 19 million in the U.S., according to German researcher GfK.
Now, backers of the state-of-the-art TV technology are shifting their hopes for a European HDTV breakthrough to Christmas, 2006. This time it may not be wishful thinking. The reason: In October, the first high-def DVD recorders will hit the market in Europe — and for many consumers, the crystal-clear picture quality will provide their first real demonstration of HD’s advantage.