NAB challenges Nielsen's DTV tally


You’d think they were a bunch of dirty old procrastinators. NAB wants to know why households that have converter boxes they simply haven’t hooked up yet, or have a coupon but simply haven’t used it yet, or are now moving off NTIA’s’ coupon waiting list, are counted as totally unready for the DTV transition by Nielsen methodology. NAB President/CEO David K. Rehr fired off a letter to Nielsen Chairman/CEO David Calhoun on the topic.

Rehr said Nielsen’s results actually paints a great picture or readiness as they stand, with the total universe of unready households reduced to only 3.9% as of the beginning of March. But he said the number could be even lower if the 8M active coupons and 4M+ households currently flowing off the NTIA coupon waiting list are counted as something better than “completely unready.”

Rehr has his reasons for not wanting unreadiness levels even mildly inflated, because “…these reports can contribute to an unnecessary level of concern that the transition is not going well among members of Congress and regulators at the Federal Communications Commission.”

Nielsen’s Gary Holmes told TVBR that the company stands behind its results. “We have been very clear about what our readiness updates include: We are reporting on whether people can actually receive a digital signal, not whether they are preparing to receive a digital signal.  These estimates are based on actual visits to the homes of the people in our sample.  As we’ve reported, there has been a steady decline in unready households in the ten months that we have been reporting this data.”

RBR/TVBR observation: In our opinion, 3.9% looks pretty good, as does the encouraging steady progress that has been made not only reducing the bottom line number, but also in reducing the African-American and Hispanic numbers, which nonetheless remain areas of specific concern. And let’s not forget the lackadaisical attitude toward the transition being shown by the younger demos. However, we suspect that the next time Nielsen publishes stats, they’ll be lower still.