Nielsen: Nation Not Fully Prepped for DTV Shift

NEW YORK Eight months away from the DTV transition, large segments of the population remain unprepared, according to a Nielsen study on DTV preparedness. The study, released to clients Friday, updates a previous study and provides additional detail on the potential programming impact.

According to the study, 9.4 percent of TV households are completely unprepared for the transition. Another 12.6 percent of households are partially unprepared and have at least one set that would not work after the transition date. That’s only slightly better than February, when 10 percent were not ready and another 13.1 percent had at least one digitally unworkable TV set.

Between now and Feb. 17, 2009, consumers have several choices: purchase a new digital set, purchase a converter box for the old set, or subscribe to a subscription TV service.

Not surprisingly, households ready to make the switch watch more TV than those that are not. Daily tuning in the households that are not ready is an average of 6.9 hours compared to “completely ready” households 8.7 hours of tuning.

As a whole, Hispanic households are the least ready for the transition. As a result, the effect of unready households on total viewing is more likely to affect Hispanic networks than Anglo networks. Viewing to unready sets accounts for 17 percent of prime-time viewing to English-language broadcast networks and 26.8 percent to Spanish-language broadcast networks.

Some markets are more ready than others. Those with the highest percentage of unprepared TV households, many of the nation’s largest markets include Milwaukee (18.3 percent); Salt Lake City (18 percent); Portland, Ore. (17.3 percent); Houston (17 percent); Minneapolis-St. Paul (16.9 percent); Dallas-Ft. Worth (15.7 percent); Cincinnati (15 percent); and St. Louis (14.7 percent).

Markets that are more ready than the general population include Hartford/New Haven, Conn.; New York; Atlanta, Ft. Myers and Naples, Fla.; Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Philadelphia; and Washington, D.C.

Nielsen, which is Adweek and Mediaweek’s parent company, intends to track preparedness on a regular basis to help the industry and the government target their outreach.