Chicago facing a DTV debacle?


A reporter for the Chicago Tribune seems alarmed that over 1,310 people from Chicago called the FCC as a result of last week’s soft analog shut-down. We aren’t alarmed — we think that result should have transition planners popping corks. The Trib noted the FCC’s total of some 55K calls generated by the 5/21/09 nationwide test. Meanwhile, Nielsen released its latest national report on consumer DTV readiness.

Nielsen registered improvements of two or more points in every one of its demographic categories except those aged 55 or older. The numbers are from 5/26/09, and we’re comparing them to a thermometer reading dated 5/10/09.

200K houses came online for DTV, knocking 0.2% off of the total unreadiness quotient, taking it from 2.9% to 2.7%. Other numbers: Whites 2.3% to 2.1%; African Americans 5.7% to 5.4%; Hispanics 4.9% to 4.7%; Asians 3.4% to 3.2%. Improving the most were those aged 35 or younger, going from 5.4% to 5.0%. 55 and older went from 1.6% to 1.5%.

Nielsen places Chicago’s total unreadiness at 2.12%, well below the national average. Only two markets are above 5%, but both are well above and still require special attention from the FCC, NAB and other interested parties. They are Dallas-Ft. Worth at 6.37% and Albuquerque-Santa Fe at a somnambulant 8.4%. On the other end of the spectrum are Oklahoma City at 0.48% and Providence RI, with a stellar 0.0% reading.

RBR/TVBR observation: Trib seemed shocked that so many calls came from Chicago. We understand that seeing the glass half full or half empty is a matter of personal preference, but this one isn’t even close. There are about 3.5M TV households in the Chicago DMA, generating 1.3K calls. Let’s string those numbers all the way out. 3,500,000 households. 1,310 calls. We’re talking 0.037%, or 0.00037. A few boy scout troops could go a long way toward bringing Chicago entirely up to speed if that’s the extent of the problem there.