U.S Consumer DTV Education Campaigns Reach Full Steam

October 31, 2007

NAB has announced that the second phase of the DTV consumer education campaigns is in full swing. This phase is long awaited for by stakeholders, decision- and lawmakers. Also, NAB have launched ads to reach lawmakers and stakeholders in D.C, awareness is not only a goal among consumers. Probably is the awareness among lawmakers just as low, even if this matter should concern them more. NAB and the DTV coalition has in fairly short time succeeded in putting together unified messages to reach out to consumers in the effort to prepare consumers to act well in time before the actual transition in ’09. The question remains though how well they will reach out and make people take action.

A difference compared to other countries is that there are no converter boxes in stores yet.

The campaigns consists of the following parts:

· DTV Action” television spots

· Crawls, snipes and/or news tickers during programming

· 30-minute educational programs about DTV

· 100-day countdown to the February 17, 2009, DTV deadline

· Public relations elements, including earned media coverage in newspapers and online

· DTV Road Show that will visit 600 locations nationwide

· DTV Speakers Bureau that will reach one million consumers

· Online banner ads on TV station Web sites

About a 1000 U.S broadcasters are using these tools to reach out. I think that is a great move – the transition is a hyper-local event. People will turn to their local stations for information and local retailers, talking with neighbours for advice and tips. A truly glocal example in todays flat world.

NAB has learned much from campaigns in Europe. It is almost a blueprint off the campaigns successfully carried out in Sweden. And the key components as the ticker, roadshow and earned media are the core components used in both Sweden and U.K. But why should the U.S invent the wheel? A transition is not really rocket science (any more) but a great effort and a real challenge for stakeholders and communication professionals. It isn’t very often you come across projects with these very special features and circumstances. Think about it: limited time that are constantly shrinking – a constant countdown, A complex mass of stakeholders that you want to coordinate to walk and talk in the same manner and direction, a limited budget, a broad range of targetgroups where the hardest to “move” and educate are in many ways the hardest group to reach with any message, a political dimension that is delicate to handle because if the project should backfire – people in the political sphere will be directly effected. And add to that a huge opportunity and challenge for retailers to provide the hardwear needed to make the transition possible on an individual level. It might even be material for a reality show…

But the greatest ally will be silence, how strange it may seam. Because if it is silent the days before a transition everything will work fine. A bold assumption but also the true reciept of a successful transition in Sweden.

It will be interesting to follow if silence will be the state of the transition on the 17th of February 2009, with two days to go..

Right now there is little silence. NAB estimates that the campaign will generate 98 billion audience impressions during the course of the campaign. If there is silence among stakeholders at this point something is very wrong. But I believe the DTV transition will be smooth and great.

Anders Bjers

Advertisements

Top Search – DTV Answer(s)

October 31, 2007

Something is about to happen among consumers in the US. The past week I have noticed a increased interest in answers about the DTV transition. When it comes to searches on the web, my guess is that NABs campaigns and their efforts to reach out is making a slow progress but with important effects. And desirable, not the least to say. NAB reports that 1,000 broadcasters are participating in the ongoing campaigns to educate consumers. And the theme is: DTV answers…

The top Q on Google got to be searches about practical answers for the DTV transition. When I punch in “DTV Answer” on Google this blog makes the top two searches. hmmm… Maybe NAB didn’t think of all us who forget to spell the question with an “S” in the end. The site and service NAB have set up is DTV Answers. Boy what a difference one syllable makes in the web world.. However let’s get moving about those question..

What are everybody looking for in terms of answers?

Let me guess:

– When is the DTV transition taking place?

– Where will it happen and when?

– What is the DTV transition?

– Do I need to do something?

– What should I do?

– Who is really affected?

– What about those coupons that I think I heard of somewhere, can I get one?

– What about one of those converterboxes…?

Please – make a comment what you are looking for when you stumble into this blog. I am happy to serve you with some answers and links to pass you on to other good sources of information and action. And I am curious about what you are looking for.

But until then – here are some of the answers that you may be looking for.

Q. When is the DTV transition taking place?

A. On the 17 of February 2009 all the analog tv-signals will be shut down and digital only tv-signals will continue to be broadcasted to your rooftop antenna. (If you use cable-TV or satellite-TV: that TV-set wont be affected).

Q. Where will it happen?

A. Throughout the whole United States at the very same day (as of now, no more information have been disclosed yet).

Q. What is the DTV transition?

A. It is the end of analog TV and the continuation for digital TV, OTA – over the air. Thats is if you use an antenna to recieve TV-signals to your TV-set. To make the transition is to get a converter box or choose any other way to recieve TV.

Q. Do I need to do something? And what should I do?

A. If you want to continue to use your TV and a rooftop antenna you should get a converter box for digital TV.

Q. Who is really affected?

A. TV sets connected to a rooftop antenna. And dont forget the TV set in your car, truck, summerhouse or trailer.

Q. What about those coupons that I think I heard of somewhere, can I get one?

A. Yes, there will be coupons to use when you buy a converter box. Check out NTIAs website.

Q. What about one of those converterboxes…?

A. No boxes in stores yet. But there will be…

If you need more answers, check out the blogroll to your right or go to www.dtvanswers.org

Anders Bjers


Today Sweden Completed Nations Transition To Digital TV

October 15, 2007

Today at 9.45 AM the Swedish Secretary of Culture, Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, switched off the last analog TV-transmitter in Sweden. During two years time and in five phases, Sweden has converted all it’s analog tv-transmitters to digital. A process that has been smoother than anyone anticipated in the beginning of the transition. Allthough consumers have been able to recieve digital-tv since 1999 in Sweden, many waited until the last hour to convert. However, it is a minority left who were still using analog only reception. The main part of Swedens consumers affected by the transition has allready made the transition. During the two years many more made the step to buy a converterbox than to wait and see until the very last minute.

The transition is overall a success, both for the Swedish government, the stakeholders and the consumers. TV viewers in Sweden has more than doubled the number of channels compared to analog broadcasts and the quality is superior. Even if many complain about the pricetag for a converter box, during the first phase of the transition, the prices has decined steadily during the remaining phases. Today it is possible to buy a converter box in Sweden for $80. And the market is fairy well developed with a great selection of different brands and capabilities and the price range varies.

So, today a fairly important piece of television history was written in a corner far up north of Scandinavia. And less than 500 days from now TV- viewers in the U.S has to be as ready as Swedes are today to be able to watch TV as usual, even if the TV-land is going through changes at the same time that are hard to imagine the outcome of. How TV as the main media will be transformed in a not too far away future. That is a major piece of history to be written – and we are a part of it, right now.

Anders Bjers, in Stockholm Sweden, for the moment.


No Change Of Coupons Needed, Say’s NTIA Boss

October 4, 2007

In a reply to Senator Kohls bill NTIA head John Kneur says that no chang is needed for the coupons program. Kneur say that the coupons will suffice for those households who want to use a coupons to buy a DTV converterbox, according to Broadcasting and Cable.

It is interesting that there is no debate in the U.S about the fact that one platform of many actually is subsidized. When consumers are walking into a BestBuy or Circiut City to buy something to get their TV going due to the transition, they have a rebate of $40 in hand for one type of box (terrestial reception) but not for satellite or cable. In Italy the same cuopon system had to be stopped since the European Union didn’t approve of the fact that one platform had an advantage like no other.

I am really curious about the fact that Best Buy and FCCLA is teaming up , according to Broadcasting&Cableo, to bring information out to families in the U.S. Grass-root initiatives is great for the transitions success, I believe.

Anders Bjers


DTV Brief Included In Broadcastengineering BlogRoll

October 3, 2007

This blog is spreading and now also credited by Broadcastengineering. Since a few weeks back this blog can be found among a handfull on BroadcastEngineerings blog roll about digital TV and the transition. Since BE is a major online forum for the TV industry it´s both fun and honoring to be included.

Thank you BE!

Anders Bjers

PS Now I have included BE on this blogs blogroll DS


Senators Bill May Put Stakeholders On A Thrill

October 3, 2007

Senator Herb Kohl (D) of Wisconsin has made a bill that could bring major changes to the DTV coupons program and also for the DTV information campaigns that is running in the U.S. The bill focuses on the elderly and how they are affected by the transition to DTV. This is reported by Broadcasting cable.com.Today it is very much up to the stakeholders how they are bringing information to consumers.  Earlier critizism has focused on the only spanish speaking audience. Since then infomercialls has started to run on major TV-networks to bring the message out.

So what help are we to be expected to be present among the elderly affected by the transition?

Senator Kohl thinks that only analog households should be able to use the coupons. Not as today when any household can use the coupon. Since the budget is limited it is a wise move. Also, information campaigns should be on TV. Well that is up and ruinning already. And not only households but also nursing homes and assisted living facilities should be included as recievers of coupons. Thats a great move in one way. But, isnt most of these facilities using cable TV? Can anyone tell me how that works? I think time is crucial here. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities would be better of if they had information sent to them or even people calling them och paying them a visit to alert them in time about the upcoming transition. for eldelry the TV is a important connection to the world. And remember they belong to the real TV-generation. For them the TV was the new thing, once bringing something really new to their lifes. We better treat them with respect.

Our experience in Sweden is that the talk and worries about the elderly that has to do something to be able to watch TV after a transition did not match the actual outcome. There have been very much less cases with elderly having serious troubles due to the transition than anyone could expect. It is hard for some to connect the converter box to a tv-set. It is harder to adjust to the fact that one more remote control is needed to make the channel selection. It is an adjustment and the products are often to complicated for people with little computer knowlede to handle. If you are used to computers you are often used to think in terms of “menus” and setup systems. We alerted the local stakeholders in more than nine months ahead of the acutal transition to make shure they had enough time to adjust and make wise decisions.

The makers of converterboxes dont usually think in simple terms. I often think that Apple should make a converterbox, because they are experts in simple user friendly formats and products. Think about it. What if the Apple TV also included a converter for DTV?  That would be neat and great I beliave. There is a lot of tuners that makes your Apple computer become even a HDTV reciever. How bout the other way around?

Anders Bjers