Will NABs Digital TV tour bring awareness?

June 19, 2007

Later this year NAB will launch a campaign to educate viewers about the transition to digital TV. This is reported by Broadcast Engineering among others. With less than two yeas to go and no converterboxes in stores it is a tuff challenge to educate people about a transition that hardly no one is aware about. I think it will take some really smart moves to get peoples attention in this context. Here is what I think:

1. Plan a massive local media awareness that focuses the local meetings on the tour. People will learn more via local media reports than in any other way.

2. Come up with something that attracts both local media and the local audience to show up and take part. Anything from local TV-stars to BIG local News. The transition seames to be a national event and it is. But for the audience its a hyper local event. And keep it that way. But support it with national news. This will drive the local interest, awareness and knowledge about the transition.

3. Let people see the difference between analog TV and digital. Bring boxes and let people touch and feel. Let them try for themselves to connect a box to a TV-set, with or without a vcr, dvd or Tivo.

4. Hand out printed sheets with pictures and how-to guides to help people connect the boxes.

5. Try to let boxes out in stores in time for the tour!

6. Boost the marketing of all the local TV-stations that allready broadcast digital TV (see NABs list). If people can start using boxes and TV sets before the actual transition date it takes a lot of pressure from the actual transition on Feb 17 2009. And word will spread. Try to make one or a few areas to be pilots. This will create word of mouth and awareness.

7. Support everything that creates Word of Mouth about digital TV. Get people to talk about the transition. What it is. What is needed to be done, What will TV look like with digital reception. Who is affected. Who is NOT affected. Were to get more information. If people talk, even if it is a bit negative or questioning it still builds awareness.

And a last thing but not the least. Launch a positive brand that dont focus on the transition as a technical step but a increased service and experience for the consumer.

The transition is not rocket-science, it is a very practical step to get better TV.

Anders Bjers

PS If the US DTV-campaign colour is pink – NAB has been inspired of both Sweden and the U K. Both countries choose that colour as a base for their DTV campaigns. Not aware of each other but surprised. DS.


GAO Holds Expert Panel About DTV Transition

June 12, 2007

During the last week of June the U S Governments accountabillity office, GAO, will facillitate an expert panel focusing on the transition to digital TV. The panel will focus especially on the consumer outreach. In other words – how will American consumers effected by the transition get to know about it?

GAO made a similar report in 2005, titeled: Digital Television Transition: Issues Related to an Information
Campaign Regarding the Transition

I think GAOs effort shows how important the transition is in a broader context. The bottomline is that consumers have to buy a box and plug it in. That is how the actual transition will be carried out for most of the consumers. But since over 30 million households are effected at the same time, this is more than just a question of plug and play. Television is the most important media for everyone today. Therefore, the transistion must not fail technically or informationwise.

TV is far more used than any media today. Even if broadband connected computers har steadily gaining ground among users. About 53% of the households in the US have a broadband connection. But still, I imagine that TV outpace the computer as daily outlet of information and entertainment for the broad audience. Interesting enough President Bush signed and set the firm date for the actual transition til after he has left office. That too is a signal how important the transition is. Because if it backfires, responsible stakeholders involved in the transition will have a serious situation to deal with. But it wont be then former President G W Bush´s concern.

I know from experience that the consumer in general do not think about how they recieve TV. They just turn the TV set on and take it for granted, as they probably should after all these years. The transition stakeholders must make sure that the consumers can turn on their TV sets as usual the day after february 17 in 2009. If not, the general consumer will make a roar never heard of. That roar can be a nice purr instead if the stakeholders manage the transition in a successfull way.

If the transition will be a success – I think you will be able to tell three weeks before the actual date. If the consumers are “silent” at that time – the transition will go by smoothly. Thats how every transition are best described as in Sweden since the transition started in 2005 with the first of five phases. Since then more than 20% of the households have made their way to convert to digital TV. Mostly pleased with what they got.

But to gain silence – the hard work is to be done today. And that is a whole different story…

Anders Bjers

Prototype converterboxes showcased in New York

June 11, 2007

Here is an excerpt of a piece that I wrote with John Furrier at PodTech.

Today New York Times reports today that two prototypes of converter boxes for digital TV recently have been showcased. A converter box is needed for those consumers who are using a rooftop antenna or indoor antennas called rabbit ears to receive TV signals to their TV-set. Well known manufacturers LG and Thompson showed the new boxes scheduled to hit the shelf’s early 2008. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) arranged the showcase in New York City.

LG demonstrated a converterbox in September 2005 on Capitol Hill.

Nearly 20 million of the households in the US are directly affected by the transition. But only a fistful is aware of the changes today. Recent surveys made by NAB convey that about 60 percent of the households are not aware of the transition. And only 10 percent of consumers know that it occurs in 2009. Another 15 million homes has analog reception as an alternative in their home together with satellite and/or cable TV.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration, NTIA, will issue $ 40 vouchers to consumers who apply for them. The voucher is to be used when consumers buy a converter box. The subsidiary is funded by auctioning of frequencies that today are used for transmitting analog TV signals. The government has in that way set aside some $ 1.5 billion to help consumers to pay for their box. NAB is launching a major public awareness campaign that will reach out to consumers. The campaign itself is worth about $ 100 million according to NAB.

If you want to read more about this event and what other bloggers have written about the news – check John Furriers show at PodTech, and the headline “a box or not a box – that is the question for millions of TV viewers.

Anders Bjers

Cisco blog about DTV transition

June 11, 2007

Ciscos Mary Brown blogged recently on the companys High Tech Policy Blog with the headline DTV: What it means to consumers. I think its a very “in the middle of the road” kind of article. Spelling out the basics of the transistion to digital TV. I really expected something that told more about Ciscos view of the transistion itself. Brown who serves as director of technology and spectrum policy in Washington, D.C, writes that the consumer has a very important role to play. Thats more than true. What I am interested in is what kind of dynamics Cisco sees in the change itself. Since the consumer has to choose how to recieve TV after or better – before the switchover.

There is a growing debate about the capacity of the web when more and more of the downloaded or streamed material is video content. One recent example is the OP-Ed from Internet innovation alliance, IIA, headlined “Bring on the Exaflood -Broadband needs a boost”. The lobbygroups bottomline is offcourse that broadband connections needs more juice. But there is a connection to the switchover. Will the switchover make more consumer view TV on their broadband connection? In that case Cisco has an even more important role to play in the switchover. Or better – more options. And actors just like IIA has even more reason to push their message..

Maybe the consumer will find that the content is more attractive on the web – and cheaper.. That would bring on a Exaflood if nothing else.

Anders Bjers

How many TV sets will be effected – really?

June 11, 2007

The big questions are how many households, TV-sets, antennas, apartments, offices will be effected by the transition.

The local news channel WCCO in Minnesota reported on the subject. Estimating that around 70 million TV-sets in the US are analog only. And about 66% of the countries households have an analog TV-set. I have earlier got the information from NAB that 18.7 % of households in the US have only analog reception.

Anders Bjers