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13 Million U.S. Households Not Yet Ready for DTV Conversion


Older, White Households More Digital-Ready than Younger, Black and Hispanic Households, Nielsen Says

More than 13 million households with television sets that can only receive analog broadcasts are currently unprepared for the transition to all digital broadcasting that is scheduled for February 18, 2009, according to the Nielsen Company. Another 6 million households have at least one television set that would no longer work after that date.

Later today, at Nielsen’s Annual Client Meeting on Audience Measurement in Las Vegas, the company 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.

“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,” explained Eric Rossi, Senior Manager, Product Leadership and leader of Nielsen’s digital transition preparedness team. “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.”

Nielsen found that adults over 55 are better prepared than younger households; and Whites and Asians are more ready than Blacks (see Table 1 below). More Hispanic households still rely on analog, over-the-air broadcast television than non-Hispanics.

These estimates are based on the same national and local television ratings samples that are used to generate Nielsen television ratings. These samples are 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. (see Table 2 below)
  • Portland, OR is the least prepared local market, with 22.4% of all households using only analog sets and over-the-air television.

Percentage of Households Completely or Partially Unready for Digital Conversion

Completely Unready (%) One or More Unready Sets (%)
White 8.8 15.2
Black 12.4 19.5
Asian 11.7 18.8
Hispanic 17.3 26.2
Under age 35 12.3 17.3
Age 35-54 9.6 16.7
Age 55+ 9.4 16.4

Ranking of Local Markets Based on Percentage of TV Sets Currently Unprepared for Digital Conversion

1 New York, NY 3.5
2 Hartford & New Haven, CT 5.8
3 Boston, Ma (Manchester, NH) 6.0
4 West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce, FL 6.1
5 Philadelphia, PA 6.6
6 Tampa-St. Petersburg (Sarasota), FL 6.7
7 Atlanta, GA 7.2
8 Ft. Myers-Naples, FL 7.4
9 Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News, VA 8.3
10 New Orleans, LA 8.4
11 Birmingham(Anniston And Tuscaloosa), AL 8.7
11 Pittsburgh, PA 8.7
13 San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA 8.8
14 Charlotte, NC 9.0
15 Washington, DC (Hagerstown, MD) 9.1
16 Knoxville, TN 10.1
17 Buffalo, NY 10.3
17 Seattle-Tacoma, WA 10.3
19 Detroit, MI 10.5
19 Greenville-Spartanburg, SC-Asheville, NC-Anderson, SC 10.5
21 Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, FL 10.7
22 Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL 10.8
23 Las Vegas, NV 10.9
24 Austin, TX 11.4
25 Greensboro-High Point-Winston Salem, NC 11.7
26 San Diego, CA 12.2
27 Jacksonville, FL 12.6
27 Providence, RI-New Bedford, MA 12.6
27 Richmond-Petersburg, VA 12.6
30 Columbus, OH 12.8
30 Denver, CO 12.8
32 Chicago, IL 13.4
32 Kansas City, MO 13.4
32 Raleigh-Durham (Fayetteville), NC 13.4
35 San Antonio, TX 13.9
36 Oklahoma City, OK 14.1
37 Baltimore, MC 14.3
38 Cleveland-Akron (Canton), OH 14.9
39 Louisville, KY 15.1
40 Memphis, TN 15.2
41 Phoenix (Prescott), AZ 15.3
42 Nashville, TN 15.4
43 Los Angeles, CA 15.6
44 Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, CA 16.6
45 Dayton, OH 17.4
46 Tulsa, OK 17.7
47 Indianapolis, IN 18.1
48 Cincinnati, OH 18.5
49 Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX 18.6
50 St. Louis, MO 18.9
51 Milwaukee, WI 19.1
52 Albuquerque-Santa Fe, NM 19.3
53 Houston, TX 20.4
54 Salt Lake City, UT 21.1
55 Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN 22.1
56 Portland, OR 22.4

About The Nielsen Company
The Nielsen Company is a global information and media company with leading market positions in marketing information (ACNielsen), media information (Nielsen Media Research), online intelligence (NetRatings and BuzzMetrics), mobile measurement, trade shows and business publications (Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, Adweek). The privately held company is active in more than 100 countries, with headquarters in Haarlem, the Netherlands, and New York, USA. For more information, please visit

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