Study Finds Varied Picture of Digital TV

A new study finds consumers ready as ever to switch to digital TV but with no clear preference for either cable or satellite, just for the best value.

The latest edition of the State of Cable & Broadband, conducted for 10 years by Horowitz Associates Market Research & Consulting in Larchmont, N.Y., shows that digital has about one-fifth of all TV households and will be increasing soon. Twenty-one percent surveyed had digital, 30% among cable subscribers and 17% among satellite users. Another 14% of cable subscribers and 17% of satellite users have decided or are considering moving to digital.

“We’re very bullish as far as consumers are concerned … They want more control of their television, or substantial numbers do,” said Howard Horowitz.

That comes at the same time there’s no standard between cable and satellite providers and the people who make the technology, more often requiring a set-top box or other technical gear before households can go digital. Horowitz said consumers aren’t waiting for the technology to settle.



“The industry needs to catch up to the consumer. The consumer is already in the transition,” Horowitz said.

The study found that digital TV is impacting – and sometimes increasing – viewership levels. Thirty-four percent of digital cable subscribers and 41 percent of satellite users say they watch more TV now that they’ve got digital.

“They want this product and are willing to pay a good price. They want digital TV to deliver function and content included in the price. But it needs content and functionality,” he said.

Special features that most interested those surveyed include premium channels, digital-recording and wireless home entertainment networks.

Horowitz said that some issues of interest to planners came out of the survey, including the need for better data out of the digital boxes. It’s also important to find out how free video on demand – advertorials – could be put into the best use for advertisers and consumers.

“This interactivity is something that planners should be looking at,” he said.

He said permission-based advertising could become big if it’s available to consumers. But it won’t work if it’s not there.

“If the platform is in the home, the advertiser can take advantage of it. If it’s not, they can’t. That sounds like a Yogi Berra-ism, but it isn’t. If a consumer wants to buy a car and wants to see something on it and it’s not there Tuesday, they won’t call Wednesday to get it [the technology to receive it in the home] … It has to be there. It’s not a sellable proposition, it’s a promotable proposition,” he said.

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