Have you ever thought about how much of our everyday life’s are about telling and sharing stories? How we share information, laughs, news and personal discoveries and downturns by telling them to our closest. This we do at work, at home, on the phone, online and everywhere else were we find the moment to have a chat and tell our stories. And off course we listen to our friends, familys and peers stories.
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The U.S transition to digital TV is a great story unfolding. And I believe that much of the awareness will be built around the stories that people share among themselves. Can you imagine how much talk that will arise once the story is out among the general audience? When newspapers and mainstream media cover the transition for real, when ads and campaigns are on the roll everywhere, when people blog, write about and debate the transition as such. When retailers are bringing truckloads of converter boxes in stores and consumers have to make a choice on how to receive TV.
Living in the U.S. knowing how soon the transition to DTV is, with no converter boxes in stores, no information campaigns launched and almost no cover at all in media or anywhere else, I start thinking about how the situation was in Sweden a year before the first transition took place.
It was as silent in Sweden, as it is in the U.S. for the moment, until the day when the plan for the transition was released. Then media started to cover the transition. People started to write op eds in newspapers, asking why on earth TV (analog) as they new it had to change. The market understood that the transition would really take place. At the point when the first transition (Sept 19, 2005) took place in Sweden about 30 different converter box models where on the market. Today it´s more than a hundred.
The transition was a top story in national and local news media. That itself made one of the strongest impressions on the general audience. I strongly believe that the story about the transition carried by media will be a prime mover of the general audience to act upon the fact. A transition is in my view a hyper local event. Local media is one of the most important carriers of information about a transition and the different aspects involved for the consumer.
Many consumers affected by the first transition in Sweden didn´t act until after the actual transition had taken place. People didn´t really believe that the TV signals (analog) would be shut off. But they where. Retailers were just as busy as during a prolonged Christmas time. And the day after a transition every retailer had a constant flood of people in need of support. Six months prior a transition people would have a hard time getting help from a professional retailer or installation firm to install a converter box and/or antenna. (No one here in the U.S. is mentioning the fact that people will need assistance with installations and that will be a greater issue than financial support to buy a converter box).
Practical issues were often the prime subject of the talk and debates about the transition to DTV in Sweden. But that was after the first phase (out of five phases during two years time) of transitions was completed. Before that there was a very strong debate about why a transition should be done at all. The stories about the transition changed over time from Why to Who to When to How.
-Will the same logic play out here in the U.S?
One thing remains – who will tell the story about the transition in a way that makes it a good one? That makes people listen and take action – if they have to.
As we all know, a story told the right way can make a great difference.
P.S. I am among the positive believers that the U.S. transition to digital TV will be smooth. Knowing the power of media, the message and last but most important – the people. D.S.