Two big DTV dates next week


4/13/09 will mark the T-minus 60 days and counting point for the endgame of the DTV transition, and with it will come daily countdown clocks at the hundreds of television stations running side-by-side digital and analog though 6/12/09. And on 4/16/09, we’ll have another DTV learning opportunity in the form of a mini-transition. Meanwhile, Nielsen says all but 3.4% of America is ready to do.

The stations going full-bore to the end will be marking the occasion with stepped up PSA schedules, keeping viewers aware of information on antenna and converter box installation and reminders to scan for channels.

Last month the FCC had stations declare whether they’d be shutting off analog early or not, and a number of stations for one reason or another applied and were approved to cease analog broadcast early, but no earlier than 4/16/09. 150 stations are going to go ahead and do the deed at that time.

All markets will be left with at least one major network affiliate with a strong local news presence remaining in analog for the duration.

Over 50K converter box coupons have been requested on an average day during the preceeding 30 days, but interest in the coupons appears to be on the rise. During the last week, the daily average has swelled to almost 85K requests.

According to the latest Nielsen numbers, 3.4% of US TV households are unprepared. The breakouts are as follows: White 2.7%; African American 6.2%; Hispanic 5.6%; Asian 4.4%; age 35 or younger 6.3%; age 55 or older 1.8%.

RBR/TVBR observation: About three times as many stations cut off analog on the original deadline day of 2/17/09, so next week’s mini-transition should not be nearly as challenging, due to more experience, more prep time and fewer involved stations.