High-definition television in the United States

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High-definition television (HDTV) in the United States was introduced in 1998 and has since become increasingly popular and dominant in the television market. Hundreds of HD channels are available in millions of homes and businesses both terrestrially and via subscription services such as satellite, cable and IPTV. HDTV has quickly become the standard, with about 85% of all TVs used being HD as of 2018.[1][failed verification] In the US, the 720p and 1080i formats are used for linear channels, while 1080p is available on a limited basis, mainly for pay-per-view and video on demand content.

From proposals to introduction[edit]

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began soliciting proposals for a new television standard for the U.S. in the late 1980s and later decided to ask companies competing to create the standard to pool their resources and work together, forming what was known as the Grand Alliance in 1993.

On July 23, 1996, WRAL-TV (then the CBS affiliate in Raleigh, North Carolina; now affiliated with NBC) became the first television station in the United States to broadcast a digital television signal.[2]

HDTV sets became available in the U.S. in 1998 and broadcasts began around November 1998. The first public HDTV broadcast was of the launch of the space shuttle Discovery and John Glenn's return to space; that broadcast was made possible in part by the Harris Corporation.[3] The first commercial broadcast of a local sporting event in HD was during Major League Baseball's Opening Day on March 31, 1998, the Texas Rangers against the Chicago White Sox from The Ballpark in Arlington in Arlington, TX. The telecast was produced by LIN Productions, and overseen by LIN Productions president and Texas Rangers television executive producer Lee Spieckerman. The game was also the inaugural telecast on the digital channel of Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas NBC affiliate KXAS channel 5. The historic event was simultaneously shown via satellite at a reception attended by members of congress, the FCC and other luminaries in Washington, DC. This telecast was also the first commercial HD broadcast in the state of Texas.[4] The first major sporting event broadcast nationwide in HD was Super Bowl XXXIV, broadcast by ABC on January 30, 2000. By the 2014–15 season every network show producing new episodes had transitioned to high definition.[5]

Satellite and cable[edit]

Satellite television companies in the United States, such as Dish Network and DirecTV, started to carry HD programming in 2002. Satellite transmissions in the U.S. use various forms of PSK modulation. A separate tuner is required to receive HD satellite broadcasts.

Cable television companies in the U.S. generally prefer to use 256-QAM to transmit HDTV. Many of the newer HDTVs with integrated digital tuners include support for decoding 256-QAM in addition to 8VSB for OTA digital. Cable television companies started carrying HDTV in 2003.

Currently, HD programming is carried by all major television networks in nearly all DMAs, including ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, PBS, The CW, MyNetworkTV and Telemundo; and on many independent stations. All but a select few of cable networks offer an HD broadcast to cable and satellite companies.

List of current American high-definition channels[edit]

Name HD Format Category Type
A&E 1080i Entertainment Cable
ABC 720p Broadcast
AccuWeather Network 1080i News Cable
Adult Swim Entertainment
Altitude Sports - Regional
AMC Entertainment
American Heroes Channel
Animal Planet Lifestyle
AT&T SportsNet 720p Sports – Regional
ASPiRE 1080i Entertainment
Audience 720p
AWE 1080i Lifestyle
AXS TV Entertainment
Azteca Broadcast – Spanish Broadcast
BBC America Entertainment Cable
BBC World News News
beIN Sports 720p Sports
beIN Sports en Español Sports – Spanish
BET 1080i Entertainment
Big Ten Network 720p Sports - College
Bloomberg TV 1080i News
Bravo Lifestyle
Cars.TV Sports
Cartoon Network Family
CBS Broadcast
CBS Sports Network Sports Cable
Cinemax (MoreMax, ActionMax, ThrillerMax, 5starMax, MovieMax, OuterMax, MaxLatino) Premium Movies Premium
CMT Entertainment Cable
Comedy Central Entertainment
Cooking Channel Lifestyle
Crime & Investigation Network 720p Entertainment
The CW 1080i Broadcast
Daystar 720p Religion Cable
Destination America 1080i Lifestyle
Discovery Channel Entertainment
Discovery Family Family
Discovery Life Lifestyle
Disney XD 720p Family
Disney Junior
Disney Channel
DIY 1080i Lifestyle
El Rey Network Spanish
Epix (Epix 2, Epix Hits) Premium Movies Premium
ES.TV Entertainment Cable
ESPN 720p Sports
ESPN Deportes Sports – Spanish
ESPN Goal Line/Buzz Beater/Bases Loaded Sports
EVINE Live 1080i Shopping
Flix Premium Movies Premium
FM Music Cable
Food Network Lifestyle
Fox 720p Broadcast
Fox Business Network News Cable
Fox Deportes Sports – Spanish
Fox News Channel News
FS1 Sports
Fox Soccer Plus
Fox Sports Networks (All Networks) Sports – Regional
Freeform Family
Fuse 1080i Music
Fusion News
FX 720p Entertainment
FXM Movies
FXX Entertainment
FYI Lifestyle
Galavisión 1080i Spanish
Gol TV Sports – Spanish
Golf Channel Sports
Great American Country Music
GSN Entertainment
Hallmark Channel Family
Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Movies
HBO (HBO2, HBO Comedy, HBO Family, HBO Latino, HBO Signature, HBO Zone) Premium Movies Premium
HDNet Movies Movies Cable
HGTV Lifestyle
History Entertainment
HLN News
HSN Shopping
IFC Movies
Investigation Discovery Entertainment
Ion 720p Broadcast
Justice Central 1080i News Cable
Lifetime Lifestyle
Logo TV
MASN (MASN2) Sports – Regional
MAVTV Sports
Mega TV Broadcast – Spanish
MGM HD Movies Premium
Midco SN Sports – Regional Cable
Minnesota Channel Entertainment Broadcast
MLB Network 720p Sports Cable
MLB StrikeZone
Motor Trend 1080i
The Movie Channel (The Movie Channel Xtra) Premium Movies Premium
MoviePlex (IndiePlex, RetroPlex)
MSG (MSG Plus, MSG Western New York) Sports – Regional Cable
MTV Entertainment
MTV Live Music
MyDestination.TV Lifestyle
MyNetworkTV 720p Broadcast
Nat Geo Wild Lifestyle Cable
National Geographic Entertainment
NBA TV 1080i Sports
NBC Broadcast
NBC Sports Regional Networks Sports – Regional Cable
NBC Universo Spanish
NBCSN Sports
NESN Sports – Regional
Newsmax TV News
NFL Network Sports
NFL RedZone
NHL Network
Nick at Nite Family
Nick Jr.
One America News Network News
Outdoor Channel Sports
Ovation Lifestyle
Olympic Channel Sports
Oxygen Lifestyle
Pac-12 Network Sports – College
Paramount Network Entertainment
PBS Broadcast
Pets.TV Lifestyle Cable
Playboy TV Adult
Pop Lifestyle
QVC Shopping
Recipe.TV Lifestyle
Reelz 720p Entertainment
Revolt 1080i Music
RFD-TV Lifestyle
Science Lifestyle
SEC Network 720p Sports - College
ShortsTV 1080i Movies
Showtime (Showtime 2, Showcase, Showtime Extreme, Showtime Beyond, Showtime Next, Showtime Women) Premium Movies Premium
Smithsonian Channel Lifestyle Cable
SNY Sports – Regional
Sony Movie Channel Movies
Spectrum SportsNet LA Sports – Regional
Spectrum SportsNet
Sportsman Channel Sports
Starz (Starz Comedy, Starz Edge, Starz Kids and Family, Starz InBlack, Starz Cinema) Premium Movies Premium
Starz Encore (Starz Encore, Starz Encore Action, Starz Encore Black, Starz Encore Classic, Starz Encore Suspense)
SundanceTV Movies Cable
Syfy Entertainment
TCM Movies
Telemundo Broadcast – Spanish Broadcast
TeenNick Family Cable
Tennis Channel Sports
TLC Lifestyle
TNT Entertainment
Travel Channel Lifestyle
truTV Entertainment
TUDN Sports – Spanish
TV Land Family
TV One Entertainment
UniMás Broadcast – Spanish Broadcast
Universal Kids Family Cable
Univision Broadcast – Spanish Broadcast
Up Family Cable
USA Network Entertainment
Viceland Lifestyle
VH1 Entertainment
WE tv Lifestyle
The Weather Channel News
WeatherNation TV
WGN America Entertainment
World Fishing Network Sports
YES Sports – Regional

See also[edit]


  1. ^ HDTV SETS NOW IN OVER 80% OF U.S. HOUSEHOLDS Leichtman Research Group March 16, 2015
  2. ^ History of WRAL Digital
  3. ^ "HDTV: Launched and Counting". Broadcasting and Cable. BNET. 1998-11-02. Archived from the original on 2008-12-10. Retrieved 2008-10-24. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  4. ^ KXAS Texas Rangers vs Chicago White Sox introduction – March 31, 1998
  5. ^ End of an era: the last US broadcast network TV shows finally switch from SD to HD. Diverse Tech Geek. 11 June 2014.