Consumers unprepared for digital TV transition : Mindshare study

Awareness of the February 2009 transition to digital television broadcasting is high among adults, however not all consumers are prepared, according to the latest Mindshare Online Research study (MORe).

The study of 1,200 adult consumers revealed that while almost all adults in all basic demographic categories including age, gender and income said they were aware of the transition, older adults (55+) are more aware than younger adults (18-34).

Most consumers who receive their television signal via a cable or satellite provider will not have to worry about purchasing converters or upgrading to televisions with digital receivers. However, about nine percent of consumers are completely unready and will need to make preparations prior to the transition.

Even among those in cable or satellite homes, televisions in secondary viewing locations, such as the kitchen, garage or bedroom, might not be connected to cable or satellite receivers. MORe research found that the average respondent had just over three television sets per home, yet only 1.9 sets per home were reported as ready for the digital transition.

“Many people think that they’re ready because they’re connected to cable or satellite,” said Debbie Solomon, Managing Director, Business Planning. “However, they still have to do something about those spare analog sets or they will become useless once the transition takes place.”

While 16 percent of respondents have bought new TV sets and another 16 percent have subscribed to cable in anticipation of the transition, according to the study, 44 percent of the population has taken no steps to ready their televisions and only nine percent say they’ve ordered the coupon the government is offering to help them buy a converter.

“Now that the government has run out of money for converter box coupons, there are going to be a lot of sets that are not ready, which could impact the TV audience,” says Solomon.

The study also found that most adults believe the government has done an adequate job of communicating the transition to consumers. Only a minority of consumers believe that the government and FCC could do more to warn consumers.

As for sentiments toward the transition, 38 percent of respondents said they are looking forward to better quality television reception while 31 percent are ambivalent and 20 percent are angered about the transition because of the cost involved.

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