Revisited – Down with Cable Up With DTV and Online

December 11, 2009

Funny how things can get around these days. Although the transition to DTV is over and done, with a few bumps. TV is one of the key areas for more change. And it has only begun. Another sign is today article in the New York Times headlined – Cable Freedom Is a Click Away.  Only weeks after the announcement of Comcasts bid to buy NBC, the story in Times  tells how to skip cable and make a significant financial gain. Not something to neglect these days.

Just as this blog posted over a year ago under the headline “Down with cable up with online and DTV“, cable TV is challenged by alternatives offered today. Even of you need some tech skills and patience while getting what you want to your set. But on the other hand – your new resources will offer you more time when you decide when and what to watch on your screen.

To stay tuned with your favorite shows on the set –  doesnt have to include a monthly payment to a cable giant. How bout that?

The goal is to get more for less and gain freedom from set monthly bills and cable companies that actually exclude the wealth of alternative and mainstream resources of content that are gaining in importance and quality.

This blog and the Times article has offered two ways of skipping cable – do you have any other to share?

Best / Anders


Quiz Tries Make You DTV Whiz

December 31, 2007

NTIA has made a simple online quiz, a tool that tries to help you find out if you are affected by the DTV transition or not. You can find it here.

It is simply asking you a few questions to find out how you receive TV today and if you have a digital TV set or not.

In my mind it is a too simple quiz. Most people don’t know how they receive TV. Why think about that when it has worked well for years, most people tend to think.

There is one more question you can ask yourself: How do I live?

If you live in an apartment you most of the time have cable TV. And if you are living in your own house you may have a roof top antenna. If you are uncertain, put your coat on and check. If you have one, and it is connected to a TV set – Then that set is affected by the transition. You will need a converter box. Today Chicago Tribune puts the converter box coupons program as if the government is giving away converter boxes for free. But the truth is that the coupons won’t cover the whole cost of a box. It is unclear how much a box really will cost and probably we will see a price crunch during 2008. So it will be a question of timing when people will buy boxes – to make the most worth of a coupon.

However, the transition is in February 2009. In many states there will still be a heavy winter at that point. So, try to get in action before the winter comes to your town and get a converter box during the fall in 2008. If you have an old antenna that needs to be replaced you want to do that before the roof is covered in snow and ice.

Anders Bjers


FCC vs. Cable TV, C-SPAN Airs Today’s Meeting Live

November 27, 2007

At 11 PM (EST) C-SPAN airs the public meeting that the Federal Communications Commission, FCC will hold in D.C. You can check the agenda here. Much interest will be focused on the future of cable TV. Among else AP reports – “Communications regulators will vote Tuesday on whether greater regulation of cable television providers is needed, given how widespread pay-television has become.”

In connection with the transition to digital TV it is interesting how and if cable TV might be limited in ways that makes over the air TV a more attractive choice, especially when it might be easier and cheaper with great picture quality and more channels than before. One piece of the context is included in this meeting and it will be interesting to follow the outcome.

Please tune in.

Anders Bjers


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


Cable Guy’s Campaigns For No DTV Change

September 7, 2007

The Cable TV Industry has launched an add campaign to keep cable viewers comfortable in their sofas. The campaign consists of four 30-second spots for TV. They will run until the actual switchover in February, 2009 from now and the pricetag is $200 millions. The ads began to run on TV-stations in the Washington D.C market this week according to AP.

If you want to view the ads you can see them at National Cable & Telecommunications Associations, NCTA, site. The ads seems to be tailored for elderly and Spanish speaking audiences. Two groups that many has raised concerns for. Interestingly enough the ads starts out in the D.C market. As a symbolic gesture to make lawmakers and stakeholders to see the ads firsthand. The campaign are headlined “Get Ready For Digital TV”. FCC has previously labeled it’s information efforts as “Tomorrows TV today”.

According to Broadcasting and Cable,B&E, the campaign is not only to fulfill the need for information but also to market cable TV as an alternative for those who need to switch.

Also, NAB is launching the first PSA campaigns by the end of september according to B&E.

Anders Bjers


U.S DTV Transition – A Giant Awakening

August 23, 2007

The past few weeks have been more active concerning the DTV transition here in the U.S than in a long time. News reports have been spurred by hearings in the senate, FCC activities and more websearches and mediafiles about digital TV.

There is a giant about to awaken in the US. And the giant are consumers today confused and still in the shade about the forthcoming transition. One thing that Sweden had to avoid was the elections in November 2006. To campaign about a DTV transition along with powerful political campaigns would be too hard. And among else, mixing DTV switches and elections isn’t great for politics if a transition should by any means backfire. Interestingly enough the U.S DTV transition will take place when the new President will have taken office in 2009. But much of the campaigns will roll during the election campaigns.

The U.S DTV transition lacks stickiness in media today. Om Malik, well known blogger at GigaOm out of Silicon Valley, writes today under headline: Do You Know DTV? He says: By now you all know that sometime next year analog television will be replaced by all-digital television broadcasts, a move that is likely to impact about 21 million viewers.” As we know, people in general don’t have much of a clue about the DTV transition. Commentators on the blog don’t bother much. As well as media in general. Even if Sanjay Talwani at TV Technology.com wrote a great story about consumers who wants to know more about the transition. Here is seven thoughts about how to make the transition more interesting.

What can NAB, the DTV coalition and the Government do to make the transition more sticky?

1. First, the U.S Government should stick with the low budget.

Why? Because money isn’t everything when it comes to information from the Government about DTV. I think monumental campaigns launched by the Goverment can make older people, in a greater extent affected, more suspicious about the transition. DTV might sound as something you can monitor. Keep the Government out of the transition, except in the means to bring out a basic campaign to work as a launchpad for everyone else. Let the stakeholders push the message, after all it is all about TV. The Government may monitor the transition and step in if it backfires, not be in the driver’s seat. And save taxpayers money. Let the motivated stakeholders step in and make the change. It is my belief that the U.S consumers work in a different way than U.K consumers. And the U.K have put in far to much money into DTV campaigns.

 

2. Coordinate the market and stakeholders.

The market and stakeholders then have to act. Experiences from Europe tells that official campaigns will have an impact but mostly the retailers, campaigns for converter boxes and media coverage will bring most of the knowledge to consumers. A coordinated unified DTV message can bring a monumental impact on consumers.

3. Focus on the transition as a step to simply update your television.

What do you get when you switch to DTV? No one knows that today I would say. No one talks about it either. Consumers will be positively surprised

Also, even if cable TV dominates the consumer’s ways of receiving TV – DTV OTA is a cheaper and a more for the money way to bring basic DTV to your living room than most other services. Hey it´s free! And also in HD! Consumers will love the fact. And they can get it without subscribing to a monthly service. Saving money is always good, especially when you get more than before.

4. Who is the face of the transition?

Someone or a few personalities can “face” the audience and bring a clear message out. Result, the transition can “connect” to consumers. It is very much easier for anyone to understand the transition if someone explains it in person – on screen, of screen, anywhere and everywhere. Yesterday there was a sudden break in the flow of commercials  on TV. Former Presidents Clinton and Bush s.r appeared. Their message: For small companies, kids and the country to be prepared in the event of an emergency,it’s get ready America month. A message made in a minute to promote ready.gov. For older people unsure and wary about the transition there is a need of leadership, by a person or a team. Clinton and Bush made that effort in a great way. Who will step in their shoes for the DTV transition. Today that feels like a kamikaze job but it may turn out to be the most revarding.

5. Bring on the market.

Converter boxes should be in stores already,don’t you think. 92% of all analog TV stations are already broadcasting in DTV. Why must people wait to get a box? That is a mystery to me…
In an interview by Harry A. Jessell in TV Newsday states that NTIA will wait to send DTV coupons until converter boxes are in stores. Marc Pearl, Executive Director at CERC thinks that converter boxes will be on the shelves in early 2008.

The boxes can make the transition practical and comprehendeble for consumers. Today the transition is an abstract event far away from daily deeds. And we like to buy and talk about things don’t we?

6. People want more broadband content.

According to a survey made by IBM, consumers are using their TV set less than ever. Instead consumers are using computers and pods with broadband to get information and TV content. As we all know, broadband is the future. But OTA DTV might have a place as easy low-cost DTV. Compared to heavy tech broadband usage. New research in the U.K confirmes this according to BBC. Until broadband usage is as seamless and easy as using a telephone or a water boiler…

Everything else goes digital. Someday maybe even the water boiler…

So, if the transition updates todays analog TV to better and cheaper quality than cable- or satellite TV – the money might be spent on broadband instead. Isn’t that a winner for everyone?

7. Use DTV information tickers in the TV screen. Its a killer app to make people wake up.

 

Anders Bjers

P.S Not only a giant awakening, also a giant blogpost 🙂 D.S


TIVO + HDTV Antennas – Check the DTV Pro’s Comments

August 13, 2007

Today a comment came in about HDTV antennas and TIVO’s. About 8 percent* of TIVO owners are using their TIVO with a antenna. Probably more consumers will discover the TIVO as a great option compared with cable and satellite TV. Check out a site called HDTV Antenna Guide – to learn more, if you will.

Anders Bjers

* unconfirmed source.