Disclaimer: My sense of timing on things is usually very early. I had my first HD capable television in the year 2000, and my first set up with a HD-enabled set top box (STB) almost 5 years ago at the end of 2002. I had DirectTV at the time and one of the very first things I watched was Mark Cuban's HDNet, and the very first thing I watched was NHL hockey. HDNet had this "sounds of the game" feature where for one period they would turn off the broadcasters microphones and just let you listen to the game.
That seem fitting to me as two of my favorite bloggers on the Internet are Cuban and Ted Leonsis (who owns the Washington Capitals). I was amazed at both the picture quality and the sound quality. It definitely gave more of an "at the arena" experience. I thought HDTV would take off.
While it's come a long way in the last five years, I'm not sure it's reached its tipping point yet. Again, I'm always early on this stuff and predicted the Internet would be a big deal at least 10 years before it actually was, and I don't think HD is quite as dramatically life-changing in 2007 as people perceived the Internet when it finally caught on with the masses ~1997. Many, many HDTVs have been sold, but so many of them don't have any HD content on them. Even here in San Francisco where just about every bar now has some sort of plasma or LCD screen, most are still not in HD.
I recently ran into the bar manager of the pub where I go to watch the Washington Redskins play (I no longer have DirectTV, and you can't get the Sunday Ticket NFL package if you don't). If I want to see the Redskins play and they're not in one of the national games, I've got to go to a sports bar. The place I usually go has had HDTVs for at least 4 years, but they did not have HD STBs hooked up to them.
When I ran into Patrick he said, "You're going to love it, we finally went HD. So many places around here don't we feel it will be a competitive advantage for this year's football season."
If that does indeed prove to be the case, it will be a short-lived advantage because the other bars will hop right on with that kind of motivation. I hope it finally catches fire. I'm one of a few people who's probably excited that the NFL will be broadcasting instant replays in HD this year.
I really want everyone to want HD content. Because when the masses are finally screaming for it, everything will be in HD. It's 2007 and it seems like only half of the San Francisco Giants MLB games have been broadcast in HD. Of course as sad as they've looked this year, I'm probably better off with the blurry version.
We're probably still a couple of years off before the masses are clamoring for HD, but I think the tide may finally be starting to turn.