5.1% of Households Still Unready for Digital, Nielsen Says
Nielsen says the portion of TV households still unready for digital TV has dropped a little, but that 5.1% of households are still unready and that the percentage of African American, Hispanic and households headed by those under 35 that are not ready exceeds 8%.
In its latest report, Nielsen said that overall, 5.8 million households, or 5.1% of the nation, were completely unready for DTV on Feb. 1. That's down from 5.7% on Jan. 18, a drop of 700,000 households.
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Nielsen views totally unready households as those without cable or satellite and without a TV that can get a digital signal over the air.
In addition to the totally unready households, there are a number of other households where some but not all sets will lose TV in the switch.
President Barack Obama is expected to sign legislation as soon as today that would postpone the national DTV transition to June 12 from Feb. 17.
Nielsen said 8.7% of African American households are totally unready and 8.5% of Hispanic households, compared to 9.9% and 9.7%, respectively, in its January report.
Nielsen also said the percentage of unready homes headed by those under 35 is relatively high and hasn’t been shrinking as fast as in other demographic categories. Nielsen said 8.6% of households headed by those under 35 aren’t ready, down from 8.8% in January.
The national numbers don’t fully reflect wide market-by-market disparities, both in the overall rates and in the rates by minority groups.
Nielsen said the Albuquerque-Santa Fe market still leads the nation with 12.6% of households, down from 12.2%. Among other markets with the most households unready: Houston, 9.6%; Tulsa, Okla., 9.4%, and Dallas, 9.0%.
Nielsen said that in a number of markets, including some big ones, the rates of minority group households unready are higher.
In Phoenix, where 6.3% of the market overall is unready, 16.5% of Hispanic households are unready and the Hispanic statistic hasn’t changed at all from December. In Dallas, 13.3% of African American households and 12.3% of Hispanic households are totally unready, a drop from the 15.7% and 13.9%, respectively, in December. In Houston, 13.3% of African American and 16.2% of Hispanic households are totally unready, down from 14.1% and 17.0%, respectively.
In Los Angeles, where 7.1% of households are totally unready, 9.8% of African American households and 10.5% of Hispanic households are fully unready, a drop from the 11.2% for each last time.
National Association of Broadcasters VP Jonathan Collegio said the Nielsen numbers overstate potential problems.
"Nielsen’s measure of ‘complete’ unreadiness is inflated, because it does not account for people who have not installed their converter boxes yet or those who have coupons but have not yet redeemed them," he said. "Currently more than 10 million coupons are active but not yet redeemed, and NAB research shows that nearly 40% of converter box owners have yet to hook up their boxes. These viewers may be technically unready in the strictest sense, but they are not completely unready. To get a truly accurate snapshot of consumer readiness, the specific actions taken by these households should be acknowledged."
(2:45 p.m.: Added NAB comment)