Blogstats Whent Bezerk – Comment Brought Bright Idea

January 2, 2008

This blog soared in viewers on this years first day. I am just as surprised as anyone what happened. But something made people to pour in this way. However, so did a few comments and one of them came from Will in Nashville, that one also brought an insight and maybe a good idea.

But lets start with Wills question.

January 1, 2008 at 3:19 pm

Hi Anders…

Re your recent comment on the NY Times blog, “… more channels than ever for free…”

I’m not sure where you get the “more channels than ever” part. Even the largest TV markets in the U.S. have at most, a dozen or so broadcast TV outlets. While I’m certainly no friend of the Cable industry (quite the contrary – Comcast and I have been battling each other for years) … for most folks no cable means no Comedy Central, no MTV/VH1/BET, no CNNMSNBCFOXNEWS, etc. etc.

But good luck in spreading the digital broadcasting gospel…..

Will Cate
Nashville, TN

And here is my answer and the idea:

Hi Will,
Thank you for reading this blog and making comments. Even if I am unsure that I am spreading a DTV gospel. I try to be both critical and positive but allways clear about how I am commentating on the development of DTV in the U.S. It is in my view a very interesting project since USA is the “home of television” and in the midst of great changes when it comes to the most used media – TV.

Bit lets move on to your point. Most stations have the possibility of multicasting TV when broadcast in digital. For one channel in analog broadcast you can send up to seven in digital quality. Not HDTV – that needs more capacity and you can only send about two channels in HDTV on previous one analog channel. All in all this provides new space and programming for all stations that broadcast in analog over-the-air (OTA). Same principle goes for cable and satellite broadcast in digital.
However, If the stations that today broadcast in analog will choose to multicast is up to the station to choose. So, you need to check your local TV-stations, how and if they will multicast. That in itself brings more channels than ever to viewers that are used watching a dozen channels today on analog TV. But how it will work out in a local perspective is something you need to find out.

I think there should be a online service were you could punch in your city and or zip-code and get a chart that made it easy for you to find out how many channels you have today and what you will be able to see “tomorrow” in digital.

In every country that this far has made a transition to DTV the increase in new TV channels have been one of the greatest forces to “pull” people over to DTV.

I think FCC together with NAB and stakeholders should develop this website that provides a quick and easy overview of multicasting on a local level. To visualize the difference in programming – simply what you have today and what you get in digital broadcast. And also put this in the PR-strategy to talk about what people really get for their money – on a local level, where viewers affected are.

If it follows the trend in other countries the difference should be a doubling in channels. Not too bad is it?

What do you think about that?

From the DTV gospel guy… 🙂

Best/ Anders

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DTV PSA Trailers Blazes The D.C Area First

November 15, 2007

As of yesterday commercial broadcasters in the Washington D.C broadcast TV market begun airing synchronized public service announcements, PSAs. It is according to NAB an “unprecedented” effort that so many broadcasters are working together to reach out with messages about the upcoming DTV transition.

Among the participating stations are: WRC (4), WTTG (5), WJLA (7), WUSA (9), WDCA (20), WDCW (50),WFDC (14) and WZDC (25). Among the major broadcast networks represented you will find NBC, FOX, ABC, CBS, My Network TV, CW. For the Spanish speaking community broadcasters Univision and Telemundo will put out messages in Spanish only.

According to the media magazine Twice the PSAs are “warning consumers that the transition to digital broadcasting is coming — so be prepared”.

NAB and the broadcasters should really have credit for putting out trailers with information about the transition in sync. Many countries experience that making different stakeholders work together around unified messages is the hardest thing of all during the process to manage a transition. After all, many years have been spent on not working together but competing and positioning against each other. Suddenly, you are forced to work together because of a mutual goal – a successful transition and to “move” the audience as smooth as possible and making it worthwhile to pay for converterboxes in many cases without knowing or understanding what you as a consumer get. Another good example of cooperation is the consensus NAB, CEA and MSTV showed in September about the NTIA converter box coupons program.

However, a few comments:

– Why start now airing PSAs?

It is really the heavy artillery that is brought to the audience. And there are no DTV converter boxes in stores (This is what you get on Best Buy and it might take a while). We are only weeks away from the Christmas shopping frenzy. A converter box is a great gift after all and might be the top gift for the Christmas in 2008. Consumers may be dissapointed and frustrated when they are alerted about the transition but can’t do anything active about it. (Even if consumers need time to understand what to do as Chris Hunter blogs).

I think the PSAs are launched with another audience in mind: lawmakers, lobbyists, commissioners, representatives, senators and every heavy stakeholder that decides about the context of the transition. After all a DTV transition is a hyper local event and so is decision making in D.C in some aspects.

– Why only broadcast PSAs during the evening news?

The PSAs are to be broadcast at 5 PM on Wednesdays and Thursdays and at 6 PM on Friday evenings simultainously on all participating stations. I think in upcoming months it will be a great thing to broadcast PSAs during daytime TV when many elderly and other hard to reach groups may want to watch TV. And this PSA schedule will step up as we get closer the actual transition date. Also it is great to start out with trials in the D.C area and export it to the rest of the U.S states.

And once again, surely media stakeholders are a news savvy group that use the TV for the evening news.

If you want maximum viewer attention – why not show the PSAs more often than three times a week?

Twice reports that “The spots will feature top talent from each station, presenting a unifying message that “digital television is coming with its dramatically clearer pictures, sound and additional programming choices.”

Again,this is a good move to use well known faces to put out the messages. Will make people more confident. But at the same time, where is the debate about the transition among consumers and will there be a debate? That is an interesting topic to keep track of during the coming months when the knowledge will start to sink in that many have to buy something they haven’t asked for but won’t be without – after the transition.

Anders Bjers


NAB President Rehr Talks DTV Transition And Future of Broadcast Media

November 5, 2007

NAB President and CEO David Rehr appeared on C-spans The Communicators recently to talk about the DTV transition, media ownership and the future of broadcast media.

Mr Rehr pointed out that the DTV transition is a renaissance for the TV media, however he did not elaborate on the subject in a more practical way – what can we expect? With DTV broadcast the TV picture will be crisp clear and the sound magnificent compared with todays analog TV, but that is really no news. He also wished there might be a migration from cable or satellite TV to broadcast DTV since it is free, with more channels coming up and with better quality. But the launch of DTV converter boxes can’t move fast enough. Today there is no boxes in stores even when information campaigns is up and running in full steam. The ambition is to get them in stores in January ´08. Little was said though about the efforts to reach niche groups, such as elderly or Spanish speaking. To reach the broad audience won’t be the hardest thing but to move the ones who are not as connected as many of us are.

Talking about the future of media is exciting. It is in sync with another transition – the move from the linear media world built on the laws of the industrial age to the non-linear multicomplex world of the information age that relies on connections and being connected, wherever and whenever to whatever – the consumer wants for the moment..

NABs President and CEO David Rehr said that up to 40% of local TV-stations audience click on the local TV-stations website when they go on-line! He thought that is amazing numbers for broadcast media and that the business should talk and do more about their on-line presence. One interesting effort to create a stronger local presence is NBC Hometown. And the campaigns for the DTV transition will at the same time work as a gigantic marketing campaign for local broadcast TV and imagine the thousands of on-air infomercials about the transition pushing traffic to the dtvanswers website run by NAB. On the other hand the battle will take place in stores when consumers have to make a choice between converter boxes for their roof top antenna or switch cable-, satellite- or maybe broadband TV. A “new” market is up for grabs..

Rehr mentioned that the top selling ad-on for Ipods is an FM-converter, making it possible to listen to live broadcast radio on your Ipod. If that is the case it is very interesting. Will that same need be transferred to the DTV sphere?

Will there be DTV converters for your Ipod or Iphone? That makes it possible for you to walk around watching live TV on your Ipod? Cool and simply irresistible. Or why not have a built in DTV receiver in your next Iphone. This years top invention is probably the Iphone and all media is going digital – so the next great thing should be portable wireless TV. Something Sanyo has already built.

This is what European media companies is thinking as well. Trials with DVB-H (the standard handheld Digital TV) has turned out successfully in both Germany and Sweden. So start imagine your Ipod loaded with Live TV for free and call your local Apple store to encourage them to make it possible. And in todays New York Times there is a piece about CBS Mobile, a interesting example on how to make your phone or maybe your Ipod so much more than a phone and also a TV.

Anders Bjers

P.S Things that Rehr did not talk about but would be interesting to hear more about: HDTV with an antenna + confusion about the difference between DTV, more about the different types of converter boxes – what will the choices be for consumers? On-line TV like Joost and Hulu vs broadcast TV (and hey – check this great article in NYT), NBCs move from Itunes and more on portable broadcast TV. D.S


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


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


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


IBM To Manage DTV Transition Coupons For NTIA

August 16, 2007

IBM will, together with three partners, manage the DTV transition coupons program for NTIA.

In a flash newsrelease via PR Agency CrosbyVolmer, NAB comments NTIAs choice. “This is an important step in a process that will bring digital television (DTV) to all Americans,”says Jonathan Collegio, Vice President of the NAB’s digital television transition unit.

NTIA Administrator John Kneuer stated earlier: “This is a major milestone toward implementing a successful Coupon Program to ensure the switch from analog to digital television is completed smoothly and as planned,” according to PC magazine. CNNMoney / DowJones reports that IBM will work together with Corporate Lodging Consultants, Epiq Systems and Ketchum. Multichannel news reports that the contract is worth $120 million. IBM’s John Nyland concludes in a pressrelease that “A complex initiative like this requires innovative thinking, leading technologies and cooperation among retailers, broadcasters and government agencies”.

I think it is a very interesting and surprising move! IBM will have the capability to manage the coupons program logistically but will it have the brains to come up with the smart ways to bring the information out to the ones who is in need? Most needy of the converter box coupons will probably are the ones with low-tech tools and knowledge. So IBMs challenge will be to go from high-tech to low-tech with a high-tech message… And it has to be in sync with the DTV coalition’s campaigns. Confusion is high and consumers are in most need with clear and well designed messages to be able to grasp the value of the coupons.

Let’s keep track of how IBM will carry this one out…

More comments on this will follow…

Anders Bjers