SuperBowl in HD? Maybe not…

You’ve bought your magnificent HDTV and it’s installed. You have upgraded your cable service so that you get their HD programming, to take advantage of the extra resolution of your new TV. And you’ve started making the shopping list for your SuperBowl bash on February 4th, because you’ve invited a mob of friends and family to come watch the game on your big screen in high definition.

Not so fast, cousin!

If you live in certain parts of the country, including Providence RI, Albuquerque NM, or Portland ME, then you may not be able to get the SuperBowl in HD even if you have an HD cable subscription. Why? Some of the companies that own the local stations — such as Belo, Sinclair Broadcasting, and LIN TV — refuse to give the cable companies their local HD feed without additional compensation. If you have an antenna and a digital tuner, you can get the broadcast for free, but unless the companies come to terms, local cable subscribers will be watching the games in standard definition. LIN TV has reached an agreement with Verizon’s optical fiber FiOS service to provide the local HD feed in all their markets, including Rhode Island and Norfolk, VA, so maybe some consumers will be signing up for the new service between now and the first weekend in February.

In any event, this is a stark reminder that HDTV is a bit more complex than just buying a big screen. Is it any wonder that consumers find this confusing?