Nielsen: 13 Mil. Unprepared for DTV

NEW YORK More than 13 million households are unprepared for the TV industry’s transition to digital broadcasting a year from now on Feb. 17, 2009.

According to Nielsen data released Friday, 13 million households have TV sets that can only receive analog broadcasts. Another 6 million households have at least one TV set that will no longer work after the big switch.

If the switch took place today, more than 10 percent of households would find themselves staring at a snowy screen; nearly 17 percent would have at least one analog TV set that wouldn’t work.

Between now and then, consumers have several choices: purchase a new digital set, purchase a converter box for the old set or subscribe to a subscription TV service.

Some segments of the population are more prepared than others. Overall, adults 55 years and older are more prepared than younger households. Only 9.4 of adults 55+ are completely unready compared to 12.3 percent of those under 35.

Whites and Asians are more ready than blacks and Hispanics, with 8.8 percent of Whites completely unready compared to 12.4 percent of blacks, 11.7 percent of Asians and 17.3 percent of Hispanics. When multiple TV sets are factored in, 26.2 percent of Hispanics have one or more unready sets.

DTV readiness also varies by market. In New York, only 3.5 percent of the market’s TV sets are not equipped for digital broadcasts. The least-prepared market is Portland, Ore., where 22.4 percent of households rely on analog sets and over-the-air TV.

Adweek is a unit of the Nielsen Co.