Policy

DTV Transition Has Driven 5% Of TV Households To Pay Service: Survey

6/04/2009 5:31 PM Eastern

The digital TV transition has prompted 5% of U.S. television households to subscribe to a cable or satellite service in the past year, according to a recent survey conducted by research firm Knowledge Networks.

Overall, about 26% U.S. TV households in the past year either bought a digital converter, a new television set or a pay-TV subscription to prepare for the end of analog over-the-air TV.

The majority of the country's TV stations will switch to digital-only broadcasting next Friday, June 12. That transition date was pushed back from Feb. 17.

According to Nielsen, there are about 114 million U.S. TV households; 5% of those would represent 5.7 million homes. Knowledge Networks surveyed 2,498 TV households nationwide via telephone from Feb. 20 to April 11, with a margin of error of 2% for questions asked of the total sample.

Of those surveyed, 18% said they had bought a digital converter for an analog TV to receive digital signals; 8% bought a digital TV or an HDTV set specifically in preparation for the transition; and 5% started a new pay TV subscription, also specifically in anticipation of the switch to all-digital broadcasts. (The numbers do not add up to 26% because there is some overlap among the groups.)

The survey also found awareness of the transition has increased, to 91% of all TV homes, up from 85% in 2008 and 45% in 2007.

Among the 18% of TV homes that bought a digital converter, around 80% used the government coupon program, according to Knowledge Networks. In homes that still have only broadcast reception, three times as many -- 53% -- reported they bought a digital converter in the past year, and 93% of those used the coupon program.

The number of sets per home relying on regular broadcast reception averaged 0.48 in the new survey, almost one-third the average of 1.32 in a spring 2006.

Knowledge Networks, founded in 1998, is based in Menlo Park, Calif.