Millions of Antenna TVs to Go Dark After Switchover

Oct 22, 2008  •  Post A Comment

About 15% of U.S. television viewers still receive over-the-air analog broadcasts through their antennas four months before the switchover to all-digital broadcasts in February, and about a fifth of those will let those TVs go dark, ABI Research said in a report today.
Almost three-quarters of the remaining over-the-air viewers will acquire and use set-top boxes that convert digital signals to analog, while 10% will become cable or satellite subscribers, ABI said in a statement Tuesday.
The Feb. 17 switchover has helped trigger a jump in sales of flat-panel televisions, almost all of which are HDTVs. Annual global TV shipments will rise 4% to 208 million units this year as liquid-crystal display TVs overtake cathode-ray tube sets as the world’s most popular type of television set, DisplaySearch said last month.
“Terrestrial viewers tend to be more likely to use alternative video entertainment forms such as DVD rentals and broadband video, and the transition may push them further in that direction,” Steve Wilson, principal analyst at ABI Research, said in the report.
Last week, Nielsen Co. estimated that 9 million households would stop receiving any type of broadcasting if the digital switchover were to occur today, while an additional 12.6 million households would lose service of at least one television set.


  1. So, after the switch, fewer than 15 percent will receive digital signals over the air. What a waste of spectrum and electricity to reach so few people! Why doesn’t the government throw those few holdouts a FREE “lifeline” service, on cable or satellite, featuring only the channels lost from the spectrum. The cost of subsidization would surely be far less than the opportunity cost of selling off the spectrum to cell phone providers. Think about that, next time you have a dropped call, or can’t get a signal. Think of the wasted spectrum being used to reach a handful of people. Phones are mobile; TV is not. So, TV should not rely on over-the-air terrestrial signals, especially as all homes are reached by satellite or cable.

  2. By my calculations, that is still 45,000,000 people that get television OTA.

  3. A few things….
    1) where are they geting thier numbers for percentages???? As stated before, nobody I know who is on antenna was ever asked about readiness and reception.
    2) why is Neilson involved, when they coul have taken surveys from actual people, not set top boxes with “OK TO RECORD MY VIEWING THIS CHANNEL” buttons.
    3) Are they surveying cable and sat, for new figures? I’d like to hear an official’s account of DTV in either industry. Name should be included for verification and credibility. Note how this article mentions neither. NO names or positions are in this story, other than acompany name.
    4) How about how many stations will be ignored, after the switch?? Lima, Ohio is a prime example. Palm Springs, CA’s low power stations are as well.
    Both use Low power or “CA” class A stations for network and news coverage.

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