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CostHelper > Consumer Electronics  > TV, Home Theater & Audio > High-Definition Service

High-Definition Service Cost


How Much Does High-Definition Service Cost?

 
low costLow: For Current Subscribers, Add Around $8-$10+ on top of Existing Serviceaverage costMedium: Basic Packages Run $10-$65/monthhigh costHigh: Premium Packages Can Run $50-$130+/month
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Now that television broadcasts have transitioned to digital transmissions, more and more television stations and networks have started to broadcast in high-definition. High-definition television (HDTV), simply defined, is where a video is being shown in either 720p, 1080i, or 1080p lines of resolution on a television set.

In order to view high-definition television shows, not only do you need a television capable of showing high-definition video, but there must also be a source available providing the content. In broadcast TV terms, the service provider showing the HD programming source is a cable company, a satellite provider, a streaming video company or local over-the-air HD broadcasts.

Typical costs:

  • Pay service TV viewing, such as cable and satellite TV, all have HD content available. There is usually an additional cost of about $8-$10 for the HD set top box in addition to the cost of a TV package plan. HD content is often considered a premium service in these cases.
  • Cable TV costs range from $11-$127 per month depending on packaging and tiers of channels chosen. The limited basic cable option that is usually available with most providers only offers local HD broadcast channels. To view any other HD cable channels in the provider's digital lineups, an HD set top box (~$8) is required. Premium channels, Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) and additional room outlets for viewing would cost additional as well.
  • Satellite TV channel packages range from $20 to $110 per month. As with cable, HD content viewing can add $10 per month to each package. Other costs may include local channels, additional premium movie channels, foreign language channel packages, sport packages, DVR options and additional room outlets.
  • Netflix and Blockbuster are the two larger online DVD rental companies that offer streaming video over the Internet, though currently only Netflix offers HD streaming content. Their plans require a broadband connection and a digital media box ($100). Netflix requires at least a subscription rental plan of $9 or more for their streaming video service.
  • Over-the-air digital transmissions include local and public broadcast television shows in HD. There is no fee associated with viewing these channels. However, an antenna is needed in order to pick up and amplify the signals from the broadcasting towers to your television set.
Related articles: Bundled Services, Cable TV, Satellite TV, Streaming Movies, Blu-Ray DVD Player, Broadcast TV

What should be included:
  • The number 720 and 1080 refer to the lines of vertical resolution, while the letter 'i' stands for interlaced and 'p' for progressive. In a progressive video, each frame of video is displayed fully. All 720 lines and 1080 lines are all displayed at one time to create every frame of video in a 720p and 1080p picture, respectively. In 1080i video, however, the picture is generated by first displaying the odd 540 vertical lines and then displaying the even 540 lines in order to make up a full video frame. HD broadcast TV currently only transmits in either 720p or 1080i. Next generation Blu-ray discs contains content often in 1080p.
  • Even with a High Definition (HD)-capable TV, if the pay TV cable or satellite service provider does not provide you with an HD receiver, a TV set would still be unable to display HD cable shows. The HD receiver allows descrambles HD content for the set. Only local broadcast HD channels may be available for free.
  • Over-the-air HD content only requires an antenna and coaxial cable hook up to a television set.
  • Streaming video requires a broadband connection and a digital media box.
Additional costs:
  • For cable and satellite pay and TV subscription services, added costs can include additional leases of HD receivers for other rooms. This cost ranges from about $6-$10 per month for each additional receiver.
  • These kinds of pay TV services also charge additional for premium movie channels, special programming packages and DVRs.
  • Streaming video content costs only have either the monthly subscription fee (Netflix) or charge per movie rental (Blockbuster).
Discounts:
  • New customers signing up for cable or satellite television service often can get a "free" upgrade to an HD receiver or content depending on the length of contract signed and/or programming tier chosen based on the current promotion.
  • Streaming video providers may offer the occasional free trial period.
  • Sales for indoor or outdoor antennas to watch over the air broadcast TV often occur during major shopping holidays.
Shopping for high-definition service:
  • Note that pricing for paid programming varies from region to region throughout the US.
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