How The Digital TV Transition Will Accidentally Help HDTV Sales

from the customer-confusion dept

There's been a huge amount of confusion concerning the February 2009 transition from analog over-the-air TV to digital over-the-air TV, but one of the big points of confusion is the false assumption by many that this has something to do with HDTV. It doesn't. It's just about the television content that's available freely over the air -- as opposed to via cable or satellite TV. For anyone who is a subscriber to cable or satellite (i.e., the majority of Americans) the transition basically means nothing. Yet, thanks to years of FUD from folks resisting the transition (mainly the TV broadcasters who wanted to keep their spectrum) many people are quite confused about what this means. Some new studies have looked at public readiness for the switch, and while most of the headlines focus on the fact that about half of those impacted are unready for the shift, what may be much more interesting is a tidbit not found in most of the coverage, but tucked into the Washington Post coverage:
About 30 percent of the respondents indicated they had plans to ready themselves for the transition, even though they do not have to do anything to maintain service.
In other words, an awful lot of people who already have a digitally enabled TV, cable service or satellite service somehow think they need to upgrade to keep service after February. Obviously, they're confused, and it would be a good guess to assume the root of at least a significant percentage of that confusion is that idea that this has something to do with HDTV. So, it sounds like a large group of cable or satellite TV subscribers are planning to upgrade to HDTV, not because they want to, but because they incorrectly think they need to to keep getting TV after February of next year. HDTV providers must be thrilled.

As for the percentage of folks who will be impacted and haven't done anything about it yet, that doesn't seem too troublesome. After all, there's still seven or eight months to get it done, and people sure do like to procrastinate. What's more troubling, perhaps, is the fact that the $40 coupons for converter boxes that are being sent out to those who request them expire after 90 days. Why? No one seems to have any clue, and its leading to many of these coupons expiring before people have a chance to redeem them.

Filed Under: confusion, digital tv, fcc, hdtv, spectrum


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  1. identicon
    peggy G, 30 Jul 2008 @ 11:29am

    Re: Concur

    May I make a small comment on many of the emails I've read regarding the analog/digital conversion. One very important aspect of all of this is ALL of the cable service companys again ALL cable/telephone & satellite service providers in New York will be scrambling every signal.... even basic local channels which on Long Island were not scrambled previously unless you had premium channels. What that means is every television or separate VCR/DVD recorder set up in your home will have to have a separate tuner/descrambler box at a monthly fee from $4.00 to $9.00 when this digital conversion is completed. I have been researching this horredous predicament for nearly a year and very few people are aware of what's about to occur if they have several tv's in their home. Many of us over the years placed additional tv's in kitchens, spare bedrooms, execise rooms etc.. In fact that's where many of us stuck the old tv's. But now, every tv you want to watch that is not hooked up to a free over the air Broadcast antennae your gonna pay for; every single month a fee to whichever service provider your hooked into. However, if armed with this knowledge you can prepare for this as we've done. Due to our many varied tv set ups in our home we researched the great info on web sites for antennaes that work in our area and will be ordering the antennae best for our location before the winter weather and use all of the existing cable leads we already have for free digital broadcast via the antennae and order cable service for the additional channels for just one main tv in the house. No way are we paying hundreds of dollars extra just to descramble local channels and make cable providers wallets fatter with our hard earned money. The FCC really messed up with this one; they should have figured if there was a way these providers could stick it to the uneducated consumer they would and they should have provided the consumer with better protection than just an digital/ analog converter box which is useless unless you have an antennae. Again all cable providers will be scrambling all of their channels period no exception all tv's will require a montly fee paid decoder box. Please take the time to check out the information then contact family members who may be on fixed incomes and help them set up a free broadcast antennae if necessary before the winter hits.

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