Over-air homes looking to remain free


Not all consumers are sticking to over-the-air television just because they can’t afford to subscribe to an MVPD. And a sizable number intend to remain MVPD-free in order to get free service from "wireless television." In fact, Association of Public Television Stations (APTS) says the digital revolution may be a stunning shot in the arm for over-air service.

According to the APTS survey, 43% of current over-the-air only households would remain that way by choice by acquiring either a new digital receiver or a digital-to-analog down-converter. That’s against only 12% who would sign up for cable or satellite MVPD service.

The poll also turned up evidence that there is still a sizable bloc of citizens who aren’t yet up to speed on the transition. 25% said they don’t know what steps they’ll be taking, and 17.6% of that group said they’ll postpone a decision or do nothing. And of the citizens who are aware the transition is coming, 77% said they have no idea why the government has mandated it. "It appears that the governments positive message regarding the reasons for the transition has fallen on deaf ears," said APTS President/CEO John Lawson.

Still, he saw positives in the survey. "This data indicates that free, over-the-air television may be set for a big comeback," he observed. "Many people see broadcasting as a dinosaur technology, but we broadcasters have the opportunity to reposition it as wireless TV and reach new audiences."

TVBR/RBR observation: Most of the presidential candidates have been at it for over a year now, and there remains a large pool of undecided voters out there. A lot of people will put off a decision until the time to make it draws near. Also, to that the fact that most of the educational campaigns are just now getting started. We expect most people will know what’s coming down the pike by the time summer rolls around — and sales of DTV sets will skyrocket, especially during the holiday gift-giving season in Q4.