Centris Predicts Signal Snafus for 8.6 Million Households

As many as 8.6 million households will lose some level of TV reception Feb. 17, when analog broadcast signals are expected to cease, according to estimates from Centris. The Fort Washington, Pa. research outfit said today that of the estimated 14.6 million homes that rely exclusively on over-the-air TV, about 42 percent will be prepared with either a digital-to-analog converter box or a DTV set, and a workable antenna. The rest, Centris predicts, will have problems, perhaps losing one or more channels. The reason cited was inadequate antennas. Another 19.2 million homes with secondary over-the-air TVs are expected to be affected by the transition.

“This means that a large number of TV viewers will require additional options other than the primary converter box program to continue receiving adequate signals,” the firm stated in its press release. It went on to emphasize the opportunity for pay TV providers to woo disenfranchised households.

“We believe there is a continuing marketing opportunity for service providers, manufacturers and retailers that develop targeted, local marketing programs,” Centris President Bill Beaumont stated. “We expect this opportunity will not end on Feb. 17, 2009 but continue well into the year as consumers embrace new service providers and seek new TV reception solutions.”

Centris fired up TV people last February when it announced research demonstrating coverage gaps across the country. At that point, the firm estimated that as many as 40 million households pulled in over-the-air TV (primary and secondary, combined), and said “millions” would be affected by the transition. Dave Donovan, chief of the Association for Maximum Service Television, said the findings were inaccurate because they were based primarily on the use of indoor antennas rather than signal-strength measurement. A Centris executive countered that around 80 percent of over-the-air reception is contingent upon indoor antennas.