Easier Said Than Done

I recently moved from New York to Georgia. Yes, we’ve all moved at one time or another in our lives, but I’ll share this one with you while it’s still fresh in my mind.

The experience reminded me of just where television stands in life’s grand pecking order. Before the move, I was fixated on how the moving crew would be protecting my precious 65-inch Mitsubishi HDTV. Will it be crated? Wrapped how many times? How many men will carry it? Don’t screw up my ISF calibration!

Once in Atlanta, my priorities changed. WHERE’S A DAMN CAN OPENER! All of a sudden, my focus was elsewhere. Even the most organized of moves can leave you frustrated as you seek to reconnect with all that was once familiar. New house, new city, new schools and new job all took precedent over TV.

Among the items temporarily lost in the shuffle was a simple set of rabbit ears. I did find my rooftop UHF antenna and rotor, and that 7-foot shimmering swath of metal had a temporary home in my living room...until my wife walked in. Ultimately, I found the rabbit ears, and watched a grainy, static-filled signal from the local broadcast stations for two weeks.

Digital reception? I tried—and I know what I’m doing! Locking in on a digital signal was nearly impossible with my rabbit ears. I’m looking forward to the day when I can install that aforementioned rooftop antenna, as I’m sure a treasure trove of HD and multicast signals awaits me here in the nation’s 9th largest market. Absent that, I found myself stuck at home on a Saturday afternoon from 2 ‘til 5, waiting for the cable guy to arrive.

And arrive he did. Now I’ve got VOD, HDTV, PPV and hundreds of channels to choose from. My broadband connection is speedy, and it’ll take me months to figure out all the bells & whistles that accompany my VOIP-based digital phone service.

My point to the broadcast station community is this: Most people do not have the patience, the equipment or the knowledge in order to watch your free over-the-air signal anymore. It’s easier to buy a bundled package from a satellite, cable or even a telecom provider these days.

Do you disagree? Just wait until analog signals disappear in February 2009. How many kitchen and bedroom TVs will be rendered signal-less just over two years from now?

It’s all about your content, folks. I used to think that broadcasters had an innate signal distribution advantage, but my recent efforts to secure a “watchable” signal have me reconsidering that position. Your station’s promotion manager is more important now than ever before.

Jeffrey Ulrich is the new business and convergence sales manager at WGCL, Atlanta, GA. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Meredith Corporation. He can be reached through his website, www.hidefjeff.com, or at HiDefJeff@gmail.com.