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


U.S DTV Awareness On The Rise

March 26, 2008

News has been low lately about the DTV switch. But today a survey reveals that 6 out of 10 Americans now are aware of the U.S. transition to DTV. BroadcastingCable reports about the survey made by Frank N. Magid Associates. In September 2007 a survey found that only 34% knew about the transition. U.S consumer awareness is on the rise and that is good news. However, it is still a good deal of work that remains. The next question for consumers to be asked is more crucial, that is: If they know if they are affected by the transition at all. Cable and satellite viewers are not affected directly.

In Sweden, one of few countries that has completed a national transition, the DTV switch is over and done. Last survey sheds new light on the transition. First, Consumers who were most negative to do the switch, now is among the most positive – their low expectations were exceeded. Second, now one third of elderly people are actively viewing a greater amount of channels than before the switch. Third, most people had a converter box installed before the actual transition – that proofs that the information awareness campaigns worked well. Mission completed!

Anders Bjers


One DTV Converter For The Whole House

March 4, 2008

Today I saw that someone had made a Google search on the subject “One converter box for the whole house”. It caught my attention because it is a logic question that many will ask when they know they need a box.

It goes something like – If I have three or four TV sets can I have one box?

When you have several TV-sets in the house but little interest in technology you probably want to make the transition as easy as possible. Creating converter boxes is no rocketscience but to figure out consumers needs and demand and make a great box, that is a challenge. A smooth transition is in many ways the same as easy-to-use technology.
A Swedish company saw the the need from households, elderly and landlords who needed a simple solution for the TV-set. The company made a “Multibox”. It works for several TV-sets simultaneously. You connect the box to the antenna, preferably up in the attic. If you have a system of cables already installed in the house you let the box be connected to that system. Little changes, no extra remote controls, something granny appreciates.

I don’t know if this would work in the U.S. but it is really interesting thought if the U.S market do have a need for a simple solution – one box for the whole house. Another smart thing is that this box still let the analog signal run through so you can continue watching that Low Power TV station that won’t transfer to digital signals.

Check out the Multibox.

/Anders Bjers

P.S. Another smart thing, with a Multibox, the VCR continues to work “as usual”… D.S.


Wanted: DTV Spokespersons In Charge

February 13, 2008

DTV information campaigns are continuing the work to overcome the challenge in bringing information to every consumer affected by the transition. Media is covering the topic almost daily or weekly at least. Comments pours into this blog on the subject. One of the latest is this one below, I want to share it here as a sign of how many consumers may be feeling for the moment about the DTV transition.

I am interested in what all of this means to me. I have lived in a rural area from birth. Our TV reception has always been marginal, with just a couple of stations with decent reception and about 5 more with varying degrees of watchable reception. Locally, there are about 5 stations broadcasting DTV. I am still totally analog, so far. It seems that this coming transition is not well organized. I think a leader must emerge and take the risk to get the converter boxes to the public. At this time, a converter box is not available at my local Radio Shack. I am semi-patiently waiting. I haven’t signed up for my coupons, yet.”

I hope the launch of converter boxes in the coming weeks can help this reader. Often the reception will become much better with digital TV signals. If the reception still is poor after the converter box is connected, the problem might be the antenna. If it is old and worn, it needs to be replaced.

The question of a leader to emerge is interesting. As of now there is not one single person who is in charge of the whole transition. The press conference at Best Buy in Washington D.C last week was a gathering with all the top stakeholders on stage together. I doubt one single person will step forward as the person to be in over-all charge of the transition. However, what I do think is missing right now is one or a few real spokespersons. That has the ability to explain the transition easily and answer common questions from consumers about the transition with clarity. I think media would appreciate this as well.

It would make it much easier to bring one message to the audience about the transition. Even when stakeholders gather together on a stage they have different views on what information is important in their own perspective. By all means, they do have various roles in the transition. The DTV coalition, federal authorities and other stakeholders are doing a great job in working together but they would be able to make the understanding about the DTV transition even easier for consumers if they could pick a few spokespersons that would meet the audience both face to face and through media.

To work together and be united is great and creates a solid base of trust to work from, but it may also confuse consumers when many talking heads that don’t differ much from the politicians now overflowing broadcasts. One or a few spokesperson with deep understanding and a manner that enables them to communicate a complex issue in a simple and easy way – that would be a factor that could help smooth the transition – from a consumers perspective.

If consumers are doing great in the time ahead of the transition – the whole transition will be splendid.

Anders Bjers

P.S Funny how things can play out. Just after I punched publish for this latest post I did a Google News search on “DTV transition”. I found a piece from Multichannel News only 12 hours old headlined “Hill Lawmakers want DTV Czar”. Bullseye… D.S


State Of The DTV Transition – Mixed But Going Forward

February 8, 2008

Yesterday was the big day for DTV stakeholders and officials. At the Best Buy meetup in D.C the NTIA:s DTV coupon was unveiled as a red “look-a-like” credit card that is worth $40 each.

Media is reporting about the event but with mixed results. It seams to me that even the stakeholders don’t really know for sure how many households that are really affected by the transitions.  Also,  the level of knowledge among consumers are unclear. Recent reports and surveys give varied results. Kim Hart at Washington Post writes, “consumers don’t know the transition is coming and have never heard about these converter boxes”. She also notes that this will be an interesting year.

U.S newsagency AFP writes about the event headlining it as “U.S gears up or the DTV switch” and cites FCC Chairman Martin saying ” more needs to be done” to inform the US consumers about the upcoming transition. AFP also sorts through some stats about the state of the transition as of now.

Media and bloggers love statistics and love when facts are unclear. Clear facts should be provided in sync among stakeholders, thats bascis Especially when they are on stage together. Wired blogger Bryan Gardiner picks up just that and keeps the ball of uncertainty rolling in his post.  Gardiner is citing Best Buys spokesperson Brian Lucas who comments on converter box sales, saying: “It’s a difficult situation because nobody has done this before. So, yes, there’s some uncertainty.”  My questions is – why don´t best buy send a team overseas to study sales and retailers efforts in Europe where actual transition has taken place. In Sweden for example the retailers really had a second Christmas season because of the transition. And during times of economic instability that shouldn’t be to bad. And I am firmly believing that consumer behaviour are just about the same in the U.S as in Europe. As well as retailers situation.

The Insignia converter box that Best buy will sell is a very simple box. Electronic house reporter Rachel Cericola writes about that box.

The Consumer Electronics Association, CEA, released new results from research that revealed the top sources consumers are using to learn about the transition. The prime source is television (72%), family and friends (39%) and the Internet (26%).  I think in any case this showes what important role the media itself will play to “move” the consumers into action.

I am astonished that either NAB or any of the stakeholders made a podcast or webbcast of yesterdays event. If there is anything important in a transition to do, it is to bring out unified messages. To bring down the level of uncertainty. I think this event was a great opportunity to spread the word from the top stakeholders to everyone involved in the mission. Also, it would be a great source for media to embed and pick up along with their own reporting. Even if the transition will be a hyper local event there will be few moments when the heads of the stakeholders share the stage together as they did yesterday.

Anders Bjers


Fifty Percent Of U.S Households Owns A Digital TV Set Today

December 29, 2007

Today there are reports that 50 % of the households owns a digital TV and a new survey suggests that 38 percent watch TV online. But, much is left in the air. Are the digital TV sets connected to a digital signal? And what are people watching online? And when and who is watching? Surveys are good but more clarification is needed.

The use of digital TV sets increases in the U.S. Darren Murph at EngadgetHD writes that half of US households now owns a digital TV according to statistics in a pressrelease from CEA, the Consumer Electronics Association. They (CEA) also predicts that 32 million TV sets will be sold in 2008. And 79% of them will be a HDTV set. This, in part, because of the upcoming transition. Marketing campaigns will be tremendous during next year to make consumers switch to a digital TV set or a converter box. However, owning a digital TV set is one thing. Neither the article or CEA reveals how many of the digital TV sets are actually receiving TV shows in digital quality, with a digital signal. That is crucial information that is missing out.

In march 2007, 28 percent of the households were owners of at least one HDTV set.

2008 will surely be a hot DTV year. With converter boxes entering the market, more campaigns launched and consumers being aroused to the fact that they ave to spend money to be able to watch television. All this along with a presidential election and online TV will gain momentum just as viewing TV on your cell phone or Ipod. A new survey suggests that 38% now watch TV online. The survey is made by Deloitte & Touche writes Hollywood Reporter (Reuters).

Buckle up for a tense ride. The media landscape is shifting into new forms. Just as consumer behaviors.

Anders Bjers


Mobile TV Gets Go In The EU – How Will U.S Follow?

November 29, 2007

Today the European union has issued a statement that names DVB-H as the standard for mobile TV among the member countries. In the statement it reads:

Following the Council meeting today, DVB-H will be published by the Commission in the list of official EU standards. As a result, all EU Member States will have to support and encourage the use of DVB-H for the launch of mobile TV services, thus avoiding market fragmentation and allowing economies of scale and accordingly affordable services and devices. In addition, the Commission intends to work closely with the Member States in the coming months on the authorisation and licensing regimes, and to look together with the industry at issues such as service layer interoperability and right management applied to mobile TV“.

This practically makes DVB-H the mandatory standard for many stakeholders in Europe.

Nokia, the worlds leading cellphone maker, has been a driving force behind picking DVB-H as a standard, as AP reports. The Finnish company has made several models of phones with built in TV and larger screens. Tests in Sweden among else, went very well and people loved the idea of watching streaming or broadcast TV in a cellphone. Some people who took part in the trials even liked the idea to bring the phone to bed to watch late night favorite TV shows…

In the U.S, Bloomberg reports that Apple and AT&T today announced that a new version of the IPhone will soon be out with greater download capacity. Making it possible to get videos from YouTube to stream “faster” to the phone. AT&T is continuing to serve television via telephone lines, competing with cable,satellite and over-the-air TV operators.

Broadcasting TV to mobile phones requires a DTV transition to make room for frequencies, the debate about what the white space should be used for has a connection to how and who will bring TV to your mobile phone in the future. One thing that Google has discovered the potential of, and are planning to place a bid for in the upcoming auction, as reported by NY Times. Making it possible to launch a wireless device – with TV included?

But, hey, when will all this be packed together in an Iphone. TV in the Iphone would look great and connect then content to Itunes and Apple would have a really strong product. Something that keeps Jobs up in the night thinking about? Well, if you read consumers minds it wouldn’t be rockets science to figure out and deliver. The EU has taken a clear step towards creating a sound platform for mobile TV. Yesterdays FCC commissioners meeting didn’t have anything like this on the agenda. So what will be the US move when it comes to mobile TV? Can FCC create a great context to unleash the powers of giants – the TV industry, telecom operators and silicon valley will be stakeholders and creators of the future for mobile TV in the U.S. Maybe Apples Iphone will be a possible spearhead into the future.

And bookworms beware… Your spouse might want to keep the light down for the sake of, thats right, TV in bed, a different kind of sneak peek…

Anders Bjers