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Only 60,000 will be HDTV-ready in time for World Cup

LONDON - As few as 60,000 people could be sitting down to watch live coverage of the World Cup on high-definition television, according to research commissioned by online comparison site uSwitch.com.

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The report said that although up to 2.6m UK households plan to buy HDTV over the next 12 months, the figure is liable only to be in the tens of thousands by the time the tournament kicks off on June 9.

According to the survey, through measurement firm BRMB, a lack of knowledge surrounding the new products could add to confusion in the market, with a knock-on affect on sales of HDTV, as the report revealed that 28% of the 1,000 people survey did not know what HDTV is or have not decided whether to invest in the new technology.

Up to 18% of the audience sample also think they will only have to spend £100 or less to get HDTV, with only 24% realising that the true cost is likely to be around £1,900 during the first year of the service, which would include more than £1,000 for a HDTV set with more costs coming in the form of extra subscription charges.

The report also said that one in five people do not realise they need to buy a new HD-ready TV to watch the new broadcasts, and that 8% of people surveyed -- the equivalent of more than 2m households, thought that they already had HDTV.

The confusion is likely to have arisen due to a number of factors -- such as some people confusing digital television with HDTV; others may have already purchased a television that is HD ready, and assumed that they were now watching high-definition broadcasts.

Chris Williams, digital television product manager at uSwitch.com, said: "There is no doubt that HDTV will be a successful format -- especially as it becomes more widely available over a variety of platforms, including the internet at some point in the future. However, for many people the digital switchover is enough to contend with for now.

"Broadcasters and retailers need to educate consumers as to exactly what is required in order to benefit from HDTV, as well as spelling out the costs involved."

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