6.5 Million U.S. Homes Still Unprepared for the Switch to Digital Television

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009
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Albuquerque-Santa Fe Least-Prepared Local Metered Market; Hartford & New Haven Most-Prepared Market

NEW YORK, NY — More than 6.5 million U.S. households – or 5.7 percent of all homes — are not ready for the upcoming transition to all-digital broadcasting and would be unable to receive any television programming at all if the transition occurred today, The Nielsen Company reported today. This is an improvement of more than 1.3 million homes since Nielsen reported readiness status at the end of December.

Under government-mandated action, all television stations are required to switch to digital programming by February 17, 2009, which will leave viewers without a television signal unless they purchase digital television sets, connect to cable, satellite, and alternate delivery systems or purchase a converter box.

Nielsen is making these estimates available as a public service to the television industry, government policy-makers and local communities. This information is based on the same national and local television ratings samples that are used to generate national and local television ratings. To conduct the survey, Nielsen representatives observed and tabulated the actual televisions used in its samples. Because Nielsen has developed samples that reflect the total U.S. population including African American and Hispanic populations, these household characteristics in the samples can be projected to the whole country.

“Nielsen has been preparing for the transition to digital television for more than two years,” said Nielsen Vice Chair Susan Whiting. “Because we recognize that accurate and reliable information on consumer behavior is essential to this transition, we’ve been sharing our data with clients, government leaders and the public so they could track progress to digital readiness.”

“There are still millions of people who will be adversely affected because they are not ready for the digital transition. So it’s critical that we provide them with the information and resources they need to stay connected with the world,” said Ernest W. Bromley, Nielsen Hispanic/Latino Advisory Council (HLAC).

“Nielsen has played a key role in reaching out to our underserved communities and helping them understand what needs to be done,” said Nita Song, Nielsen Asian Pacific American Advisory Council (APAAC).

“It is imperative that we operate at an accelerated pace to educate those who are at the greatest risk of losing their television service — low- income households, large numbers of senior, minority and disabled viewers. These viewers rely on traditional television the most and can least afford to lose their television lifelines. We have a responsibility to make sure that these groups whether in our families, churches or communities are equipped and ready for this transition,” said Cynthia Perkins-Roberts, Nielsen African American Advisory Council (AAAC).

Local Market Rankings

Among the 56 local markets that Nielsen measures with electronic meters, the one that is least ready is Albuquerque-Santa Fe, with 12.4% of the households completely unready. The most prepared market is Hartford & New Haven, with only 1.8% of homes unready.

More: Press Release with Tables