According to a recent study from The Nielsen Co., 9.6 million U.S. TV households are completely unprepared for the change to digital. Another 12.6 million have at least one TV set that is not ready for digital, although Nielsen notes that these TV sets may be used for non-TV activities such as gaming and VCR playback.
Nielsen says there has been slow improvement over a recent four-month period. The percentage of homes that are not ready for the change decreased 1.4 percentage points from May 1 to September 1 of this year. This means that 8.4% of U.S. TV households are still not ready for the move to digital.
Falling along income lines, Nielsen notes that the most unprepared households are less-educated, lower-income and blue-collar workers. In addition, older, white households are better prepared than younger, African-American, Asian or Hispanic homes.
The most unprepared markets include Houston, with 15.8% of its TV homes not ready; Dallas-Ft. Worth at 14.3%; Tulsa, Okla. at 14.1%; Salt Lake City at 13.4%; and Milwaukee at 13.3%.
The best-prepared markets are Ft. Myers-Naples at 2.4%; Hartford and New Haven, Conn. with 2.6%; West Palm Beach-Fort Pierce, Florida at 3.2%; Atlanta at 3.3%; and Philadelphia at 3.7%.
Viewers can still use federal government-issued coupons to get an analog-to-digital converter box--although the National Telecommunications & Information Administration says this activity is slow-moving.
The NTIA, which administers the converter-box coupon program, is expecting a spike in coupon requests by the end of year, as mid-December is the cutoff date. Febr. 17 is the official analog-to-digital switch date. (Hawaii's changeover is earlier).
Recently, there was concern that the coupon program could run out of funds. The NTIA has contracted with IBM--the company building the converter boxes--to distribute up to 44.5 million coupons.