Final Nielsen Count: Millions Without Digital TV, Many Using Bootleg Analog Options Instead

Our long national broadcast nightmare is finally behind us, and the U.S. TV universe - for all intent and purposes - has completed its transition to digital broadcast spectrum, according to final estimates related to the transition that were released by Nielsen Co. to clients on Wednesday. The problem is that nearly 1.5 million U.S. TV viewers failed to make the transition - either because they could not, cared not to, or found some bootleg form of receiving conventional analog broadcast signals. Whatever the reason, they are not longer part of the official U.S. digital TV universe, as far as Nielsen is concerned.

"With the passing of the [digital TV] transition deadline on June 12, 2009, Nielsen continued to track the readiness status of the total U.S. and local television markets. This is the final communication in a series of digital readiness updates," Nielsen informed clients in Wednesday's notification, which puts the final percentage of U.S. households that are "completely unready" to receive digital TV signals at 0.49%.

Nielsen's most recent data puts the U.S. TV universe at 114.9 million households and 229 million persons two-years or older.

In the notification, Nielsen pointed out that some of the "completely unready" households are likely still receiving analog TV signals via low-power stations, as well as "spill-in" stations from Mexico and Canada that were not required by the U.S. government to transition to digital TV, and which are not part of Nielsen's official counts.

"Currently, 59% of the completely unready homes in the national sample receive at least one low-power or foreign station," Nielsen said. "On average, those homes that receive low-powers currently have 3.0 stations available to them. As a result, there are a number of completely unready homes that are still capable of viewing television signals."

How many, Nielsen did not say, but local market data also released by Nielsen on Wednesday seemed to support that fact, as many of the U.S. markets bordering our foreign neighbors had much higher incidences of "completely unready" U.S. digital households.

Hispanic households residing in San Antonio, Texas, had the highest percentage - 3.38% - while 1.96% of Nielsen's general population sample in San Antonio was completely unready. The Albuquerque/Santa Fe, New Mexico, market still has 2.41% of households incapable of receiving a digital TV signal. San Diego has 1.96%, Las Vegas 1.77%, and Portland, Oregon, 2.07%.

1 comment about "Final Nielsen Count: Millions Without Digital TV, Many Using Bootleg Analog Options Instead".
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  1. Rob Frydlewicz from DentsuAegis, October 15, 2009 at 2:38 p.m.

    In a nation in which 45 million people are without health insurance I really can't muster any concern for 1.5 million who can't receive a digital TV signal.

    Also, I believe the 229 million population figure you cited is for Adults 18+ and not Persons 2+. Otherwise there would be 79 millilon persons unaccounted for. Now THAT would be a problem! LOL

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