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Border and LP Stations Take Up DTV Disruption Slack

Nearly 1.3 million U.S. households lacking digital TV reception were still watching TV over the air two weeks after the analog shutdown, according to Sara Erichson, president of North American Media Client Services North America for Nielsen. Virtually all of the nation’s full-power TV stations ceased regular analog broadcasting June 12.

“As of June 28, 60 percent of completely non-ready homes were still able to view some television by watching a low-power station, a foreign station near the Canadian or Mexican borders, or a U.S. broadcast station that is available to them via a translator,” Erichson wrote in a note to clients later posted on the company’s blog. “As a consequence, television viewing in these homes has not disappeared completely, although viewing choices are extremely limited.”

Nielsen estimated that nearly 2.1 million U.S. households had not adopted digital TV reception technology as of June 21. The number has since dropped to around 1.5 million, or around 1.3 percent of U.S. homes.

“Based on a recent survey of the non-digital homes, we expect to see continued improvement in the weeks ahead as these homes continue to figure out what they must do to be able to receive digital television,” Erichson wrote. “When asked, virtually all these homes surveyed said they were planning to switch to digital television, either by converter box, or cable/satellite subscription.”

In the months leading up to the June 12 transition, 77 percent of homes that prepared connected digital-to-analog converter boxes; 19 percent subscribed to cable and 4 percent opted for satellite TV.

“This contrasts greatly to trends seen in the very early months, when the majority of the transitioning homes acquired cable or satellite in order to receive over-the-air television,” Erichson said.

“In sum, the digital transition seems not to have had a major impact on viewing levels. People still watch a significant amount of television and we believe the small number of households that remain without digital television will eventually make the switch-over from analog television.” -- Deborah D. McAdams