DTV stuff


Analog roadblocks are in the works in major US television markets, a watchdog organization is sniping at the cable industry for raising rates, a UK study says many cable subscribers are planning on scaling back their service. And pay attention: we saved the best for last: A new study says that a significant number of analog-only/non-MVPD households in the US are simply going to let their receivers go dark without any action whatsoever. For details, click the headline.

ION Media Networks says it is helping spearhead the analog shutdown, along with NBC Universal, Telemundo, and members of the Association of Public Television Stations, which makes it crystal clear to endangered viewers that they need to take some sort of action to retain service on 2/17/09. A shutdown will take place in New York City 10/28/08, in Los Angeles and Washington DC 12/2/08 and in Hartford CT 12/3/08.

TV4US, the aforementioned watchdog group, is trying to encourage competition in the MVPD arena (mainly by making sure local franchising authorities allow telcos in), is calling out cable companies for raising rates “while they can.” It says rates are demonstrably lower in locations where there is viable competition.
Difficult economic times are leading many cable subscribers to reassess their level of service, according to a UK publication. It says that up to 25% of all subscribers there are considering cutbacks with pricing as the main concern, with movie and sports channels the main casualties.

And finally, a study from ABI Research notes that 70% of the 15% of US households that currently rely exclusively on over-the-air broadcasters for their television will respond to the DTV transition with a digital-to-analog converter box. Only 10% of the remainder, however, will subscribe to an MVPD. Fully 20% of this group intends to let the television simply go dark. According to ABI, this group is already doing most of their viewing via DVD or the Internet. Because of this, says ABI, one of the end results of the DTV conversion will be a loss of total terrestrial broadcast viewership.

RBR/TVBR observation: If ABI is completely right about the lost viewers, they already are using alternative media for their television viewing. So no big deal – you can’t lose what you don’t have. And let’s look at the numbers. Start with 300M viewers. 15% is 45M. 20% of that is 9M. That leaves broadcasters with 291M – we think that kind of total audience is worth placing an ad or two to reach. The problem, of course, will come if the trend away from traditional viewing habits starts rising at a significant rate.