Reasonably quiet mini-DTV D-Day


Despite a significant loss of analog television service in over 50 DMA’s, the world still appears to be spinning on its axis while dogs and cats maintain a healthy distrust of one another.

NAB DTV Transition VP Jonathan Collegio  said, "Early results from markets where broadcasters have completed their switch to digital are encouraging, given recent changes in the national deadline. For example, the DTV call center in Virginia, where two markets have gone entirely digital, has only received 150 calls from viewers statewide. Stations in Rockford, Ill., report receiving 200 calls from viewers, the majority of which were technical in nature. Stations in Topeka, Kan., took about 300 calls from viewers. In each case, stations were able to resolve most viewer concerns over the phone.”

Collegio continued, “The efforts by stations and their government and industry partners have been extraordinary. With more than 400 stations scheduled to switch at various times throughout the day, we are pleased that thus far call volume appears relatively low in markets where stations switched earlier in the day. Awareness of the transition is saturated in every market nationwide as a result of the broadcast industry’s $1.2 billion consumer education campaign. Viewers are our number one concern, and we are here to help them prepare for the switch."

The latest Nielsen numbers came out, showing over 5M household still completely unready for the switch as of 2/15/09, or 4.4%, down from 5.1% at the beginning of the month and 5.7% halfway through January. Here are some internals by ethnicity: White 3.6%; African American 7.5%; Hispanic 7.4%; Asian 5.1% — with all groups enjoying significant reductions in unpreparedness in the past two weeks. Agewise, all but 2.6.% of 55-and-olders are ready to go, compared to 8.1% of those younger than 35.

NTIA shows that the coupon waiting list is now just a hair under 4M at 3.98M, with 9.48M active coupons out there. Requests are still pouring in at about 100K daily. According to Reuters, funding for the coupon program is included in the ecomonic stimulus package just signed into law by President Obama, and NTIA is expected to be able to dispense with the waiting list in a matter of weeks.

Meanwhile, we’re hearing about problems with a Magnavox converter box being sold at Wal-Mart, apparently for just under $50. It is said to have problems bringing in high VHF channels, in some areas at least, and customer reviews at Wal-Mart’s website are mixed to say the least.

RBR/TVBR observation: So far, so good, apparently. The good news is that the most challenged markets will have plenty of practical experience to draw on in the coming months as the June deadline extension approaches.