More Than 13 Million Homes Unprepared for DTV, Nielsen Says


More than 13 million homes with analog-only TV sets are unprepared for the Feb. 18, 2009,

transition to all digital broadcasting

, Nielsen said Friday. And another 6 million households have at least one TV set that would no longer work after that date.

Today at its annual client meeting in Las Vegas, Nielsen will provide new details on the readiness of U.S. households for the impending shut-off of analog broadcasting, including breakdowns by age, race, ethnicity and geography.

These details provide greater understanding of who is most likely to be affected by the government mandated action, which will leave viewers without a television signal unless they purchase digital television sets, subscribe to cable or satellite, or purchase a converter box.

Nielsen found that adults over 55 are better prepared than younger households; and Whites and Asians are more ready than African Americans. More Hispanic households still rely on analog, over-the-air broadcast television than non-Hispanics.

For example, while 8.8% of white households said they were “completely unready” for the digital conversion, 17.3% of Hispanics and 12.4% of African Americans said they were “completely unready.”

The estimates are based on the same national and local television ratings samples that are used to generate Nielsen television ratings, and the samples were representative of the total U.S. population and individual local markets.

Among the key findings reported:

  • 10.1% of all households would have no access to television signals if the transition occurred today.
  • 16.8% of all households have at least one analog television set that would not work after the switch.
  • New York is the most ready local television market, with just 3.5% “unready” television sets.
  • Portland, Ore., is the least prepared local market, with 22.4% of all households using only analog sets and over-the-air television.

“The change to all-digital broadcasting is the most significant change in the history of television, because unlike other advances such as color, older television sets will no longer be able to receive television signals without a converter,” Eric Rossi, senior manager of product leadership and head of Nielsen’s digital transition preparedness team, said in a prepared statement.

“Over the past 18 months we have been reviewing every aspect of the digital transition to measure the impact and help clients understand where things stand as we all prepare for the challenges,” he said.