Over Half of Over-the-Air Households Located in Challenging Digital TV Reception Areas
New proprietary research released today by Centris (www.centris.com), the leading media market research firm, reveals that 9.2 million U.S. households could experience receptivity problems with digital TV signal coverage in the upcoming DTV transition on February 17, 2009. According to Centris, there are more than 17 million households currently receiving only over-the-air (OTA) analog signals in the U.S., of which 54% are located in challenging reception areas. The study provides the first in-depth look on a national level at the scale of the issue, and identifies the top ten cities in the country that have the most consumers at- risk. The discovery of potential receptivity “gaps” in digital TV signal coverage was revealed in an earlier Centris study released in February and generated national dialogue on the issue.
“We have completed an analysis of the entire country to identify where in each market the receptivity gaps exist and now have exact figures for the number of at-risk households down to individual census block groups,” says David Klein, Executive Vice President of Centris. “The statistics suggest that digital TV signal coverage will be significantly more limited than currently anticipated and further reinforce the need for industry and consumer education on this issue,” he adds.
Increased risk in receptivity in regional markets depends on the local terrain, distance from towers, and the sensitivity of the consumer’s existing home antenna. “Challenging reception” in this context refers to consumers that receive only four or fewer broadcast TV stations if they only have a small or medium omnidirectional rooftop antenna or if they have an indoor antenna. In addressing the range of reception problems, Centris forecasts that 24% of consumers in difficult reception areas who only have an indoor antenna or a small or medium omnidirectional antenna will receive no channels, and a further 10% will receive only 1 channel.
The findings mean that consumers who wish to remain OTA and continue to receive “free TV” may have to consider upgrading existing indoor or roof-top TV antennas to a more sensitive model in order to receive a satisfactory number of broadcast stations. Some over-the-air consumers who wish to buy a digital-analog converter box for use with their analog TVs may also have to consider an antenna upgrade. Similarly, consumers who are replacing an analog TV with a new digital TV may also have to contemplate obtaining a more sensitive antenna.
The study also identifies the top ten most at-risk TV markets in the U.S., which account for 2 million of the over-the-air households in challenging reception areas, as follows:
AT-RISK U.S. TV MARKETS (Ranked highest-lowest by No. of at-risk OTA households)
- New York
- Boston (Manchester)
- Los Angeles
- Washington, DC (Hagerstown)
- San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose
- Minneapolis-St. Paul
- Cleveland-Akron (Canton)
“It should be noted that these estimates are conservative as the model used in the Centris study assumes that all consumers have roof-top antennas. In fact, the Centris survey reveals that 75% or more of over-the-air households have only set-top antennas or ‘rabbit ears’ as they are commonly known,” says Barry Goodstadt, Senior Vice President of Centris.
The release of this new study further highlights the need to increase dialogue on the national, regional, local and neighborhood level with regard to the issue of digital TV receptivity and the need for consumers to consider their transition options and potential antenna upgrades. Digital receptivity challenges remain a local issue that need to be addressed on a local level among all segments of the television industry including broadcasters, multichannel providers, advertisers, associations, equipment manufacturers and retailers.
“To ensure a smooth transition and avoid the potential pitfalls of the digital TV transition, key players in the industry need to be armed with this information in order to make strategic business decisions and properly educate consumers,” says David Klein, Executive Vice President of Centris.
Centris is a leading market research and information company with expertise in media, entertainment, communications and technology, based in Fort Washington, PA. Serving as both a research resource and an analytical engine, Centris is the only firm that continuously tracks household information on broad entertainment, communications and information products and services. For more information, visit www.centris.com.