Broadcast Monitors from News Data Services Become Digital TV Watchdogs

I’ve invited my colleagues in News Data Services, our national collaborative of 50 independent broadcast monitoring firms, to send me their observations and any intelligence-gathering they’ve been doing on the subject of the US transition to digital television. Here is a brief, but compelling article sent to me by my friends at Columbus (OH) News Clips, which appeared today on the Mediaweek Web site:

Nielsen: 13 Mil. Not Ready for DTV

Katy Bachman

FEBRUARY 15, 2008 –

More than 13 million households are unprepared for the TV industry’s historical transition to digital broadcasting a year from now on Feb. 17, 2009. According to Nielsen data released Friday, the 13 million households have TV sets that can only receive analog broadcasts. Another 6 million households have at least one TV set that will no longer work after the big switch.

If the switch was today, 10.1 percent of households would find themselves staring at a snowy screen; 16.8 percent would have at least one analog TV set that wouldn’t work.

Between now and then, consumers have several choices: purchase a new digital set, purchase a converter box for the old set or subscribe to a subscription TV service.

Some segments of the population are more prepared than others. Overall, adults 55 years and older are more prepared than younger households. Only 9.4 of Adults 55+ are completely unready compared to 12.3 percent of those under 35.

Whites and Asians are more ready than Blacks and Hispanics, with 8.8 percent of Whites completely unready compared to 12.4 percent of Blacks; 11.7 percent of Asians; and 17.3 percent of Hispanics. When multiple TV sets are factored in, 26.2 percent of Hispanics have one more unready sets.

DTV readiness also varies by market. In New York, only 3.5 percent of the market’s TV sets are not equipped for digital broadcasts. The least-prepared market of the 56 meter markets, is Portland, Ore., where 22.4 percent of households rely on analog sets and over-the-air TV.

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