Ready or not, here we go. The digital television transition will be happening tomorrow. And while the vast majority of households are ready for America's complete conversion to digital broadcasts, there are a substantial number of holdouts that will likely be seeing static on the television screens in the coming days. Just before the transition deadline, Nielsen has released its final survey on the number of unprepared households, estimating that 2.8 million homes are completely not prepared for DTV. That's 2.45 percent of the total television viewing homes across the U.S.
The good news is that that number has declined from the 4.4 percent that were still unprepared prior to the planned February 17th transition deadline earlier this year. The bad news is that over 3 times that many homes -- over 8% of the country -- are partially not ready because, althought they have prepared for the transition on at least one TV, they still have at least one TV that does not yet have a solution.
The Obama administration requested that Congress enact an extension to the February 17th DTV deadline, which Congress extended till tomorrow. This time there will not be an extension for the holdouts. Come tomorrow, the remaining television stations that are broadcasting in analog will turn mothball their analog equipment. Already, around 42 percent of broadcast stations have converted to digital-only broadcasting, though mostly in smaller TV markets.
Experts also expect a number of households in "fringe" areas to lose over-the-air reception even though they were prepared for the transition, highlighting the one disadvantage of digital broadcasting. In those outlying areas, analog signals slowly deteriorate as signal strength reduced as you got further away from the TV station's transmitter resulting. Fringe viewers were able to watch TV but they had to accept snowy pictures. With digital signals, it's all or nothing. You get a great picture until you don't have enough signal. Then you get none. In reality, signals vary due to climate conditions and some people may find their TV's working sometimes and not working at other times. That fact will cause a long "tail" of impact for some period of time until all this settles down over the next few weeks.
In Insight's footprint the numbers of DTV unprepared home look to be hovering around the national average. According to the Nielsen numbers, in the Louisville market, around 2.57 percent of homes are unprepared. That's just over 17,000 households. In Columbus, the number is 2.09 percent or just over 19,000 homes.
If you're one of the few remaining television viewers that has not made preparations for the digital transition, there are a few steps that you can take. While you won't have time to receive a government coupon for digital converter boxes for your televisions, you can still purchase one from most consumer electronics retailers. Purchasing a television with a digital tuner is also an option. Finally, if you're interested in receiving additional channels beyond what is available on over-the-air broadcasts, connecting your televisions to cable is a great option for preparing your televisions for the transition. If you aren't an Insight customer and you would like us to be your DTV solution, give us a call. And if you're already a customer, but don't have all your TVs connected to cable, give us a call and we'll be glad to see that all your televisions are connected and DTV ready.