Research firm Centris says that 9.2M of 17M households receiving television broadcasts exclusively over the air are in reception-challenged areas. They define this as "…consumers that receive only four or fewer broadcast TV stations if they only have a small or medium omnidirectional rooftop antenna or if they have an indoor antenna." Without upgraded antennae, Centris is predicting that 24% of this group will not be able to get any signals off air, and that another 10% will get only one signal.
"We have completed an analysis of the entire country to identify where in each market the receptivity gaps exist and now have exact figures for the number of at-risk households down to individual census block groups," says Centris EVP David Klein. "The statistics suggest that digital TV signal coverage will be significantly more limited than currently anticipated and further reinforce the need for industry and consumer education on this issue."
These households are expected to require antenna upgrades, along with a converter box, unless they are willing to subscribe to an MVPD service.
Here are the top 10 markets ranked by most at-risk households, representing 2M of them, according to Centris.
1. New York
2. Boston (Manchester)
4. Los Angeles
5. Washington, DC (Hagerstown)
7. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose
8. Minneapolis-St. Paul
10. Cleveland-Akron (Canton)
RBR/TVBR observation: Centris has been playing canary in the coal mine, but MSTV has disputed earlier Centris warnings, saying that individuals in difficult reception areas are already aware of the difficulties, and suggested that Centris was relying on "paper analysis" of coverage rather than signal strength measurement.
Regardless of who is correct, the fringe areas of each and every DMA will have to be a major focus of DTV educational outreach if the transition is going to be as headache-free as possible. But NAB, MSTV, CEA, FCC, NTIA and other concerned organizations are aware of that. It’s our bet that residents of these areas will be on board with the right equipment before the deadline.