Over-the-Air Households Prefer Free Broadcast TV after Digital Transition

January 22, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Broadcast & Cable | Media & Entertainment | Television

Almost half of over-the-air households reject post-digital-transition pay TV, instead preferring to receive free, over-the-air digital television by purchasing a converter box or digital TV set, according to a recent Association of Public Television Stations (APTS) study. 

Roughly 43% of over-the-air households indicated that they would buy a converter box or purchase a digital TV between now and when the transition takes effect February 17, 2009, compared with 12% that said they would sign up for a cable or satellite service, the survey found.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has received requests for some 2.8 million converter box coupons since registration for the program began on January 1, according to published reports.

“This data indicates that free, over-the-air television may be set for a big comeback,” said APTS President and CEO John Lawson. “Many people see broadcasting as a dinosaur technology, but we broadcasters have the opportunity to reposition it as ‘wireless TV’ and reach new audiences.”

Among the other findings of the study:

  • Some 25% of Americans said they “don’t know” what steps they would take after Feb. 2009, and 19% said they would “do nothing.”
  • Of those who said they would “do nothing,” 17.6% said they would postpone or wait before they take any action, if at all.
  • While more Americans are aware of the transition to digital television, most remain unaware as to why the federal government is mandating the change to their television viewing:
    • 77% of those consumers who are aware of the transition did not know why the federal government has ordered the transition.
    • Accordingly, the APTS survey found that only 18.7% of respondents thought the government was on the “right track” with the transition.

About the study: Results are based on November 2007 survey of 1,153 households conducted by research firm CENTRIS.

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