More People Prepared for DTV (Though Confusion Remains)

Hard to believe, but the big national switch to digital TV is less than two months away. Nielsen released its December update on the national readiness status and found that the number of U.S. households completely unprepared for the DTV switch dropped to 6.8 percent from 7.4 percent in November. That’s roughly 7.8 million homes completely that aren’t ready for the transition.


The pace at which the country is getting ready improved from November to December (dropping six-tenths of a percent) over the pace from October to November (when it dropped three-tenths of a percent). This acceleration comes amidst projections that sales of flat panel sets will be off this quarter and 2009 is expected to be the toughest year yet for TV manufacturers.

This increased preparedness is reinforced by a recent Leichtman Research Group survey that found 95 percent of adults were aware of the DTV transition. But while most people know about the upcoming switch, there is still a lot of confusion about what it actually means. In its fourth-quarter Research Notes, LRG writes that “37 percent of current HDTV owners, and 48 percent of those interested in getting an HDTV believe that all TV programs will be in HD after the transition.” This is easy to believe, for as LRG points out, 18 percent of people with an HDTV think that they are watching HD programming but are not.

For those of you needing a refresher, according to the FCC’s digital TV transition web site. “On February 17, 2009 all full-power broadcast television stations in the United States will stop broadcasting on analog airwaves and begin broadcasting only in digital. Digital broadcasting will allow stations to offer improved picture and sound quality and additional channels.”