Some 40% Picks Free DTV after Transition

January 17, 2008

According to a survey made in November 2007 by APTS, but published today, some 43 percent of households will pick free programming in DTV after the transition. The story is also reported by TVNewsDay.

This is good news for over-the-air broadcasters. And APTS President and CEO John Lawson says in a comment “This data indicates that free, over-the-air television may be set for a big comeback,”. He also predicts that DTV may be a new sell for broadcasters, “Many people see broadcasting as a dinosaur technology, but we broadcasters have the opportunity to reposition it as ‘wireless TV’ and reach new audiences.”

This is good news for free programmingover-the-air. I wonder if people know exactly what free content that will be out there due to the possibility for Multcasting. Something few stations have started to actually promote and it is unsure how many will broadcast more channels or more HDTV content.

Few knows why the transition is taking place. The survey finds that 77 percent dont know that the government has ordered the transition. On the other hand, it is not only the government who wants to push for a transition. This is something a whole industry is waiting for to do.

Lawson comments on this saying: “It appears that the government’s positive message regarding the reasons for the transition has fallen on deaf ears,”.

I think this is crucial information. Because in every transition the question of “why” will be the first major information goal to reach. When people get that the whole process will focus on the “How”. A very important phase since a practical “how to”question is much easier to handle and work with. I am very curious if there will be a public debate about the “why” – why should people need to buy new equipment to continue watching TV – when it works.

Anders Bjers

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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


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


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


ION Launch DTV Campaign – Will Cable TV Loose Subscribers?

November 19, 2007

ION Media Networks, a countrywide TV net launches a new DTV educational campaign today. ION has a special part of their website dedicated to the DTV transition. And many of their OTA channels are already broadcast in digital.

The amount of local DTV campaigns are increasing on a week by week basis right now. And each day more and more consumers are waking up to the forthcoming transition “only” 456 days away. Thats the way it should be. But I think right now the stakeholders are doing a great job to build a critical mass of information about the transition. What I wonder is how they will receive and answer questions and rising confusion among consumers. And are the prepared to grasp a debate among consumers? The debate about the Why? Why am I as a consumer forced to buy new equipment to be able to watch my shows?

I am curious about how that debate may unfold. It might bloom during springtime when the fact has started to sink into the public consciousness. And more interesting: who is going to answer what questions? Who will feel responsible to meet consumers around facts that are facing consumers? I think there will be misunderstandings like that it is the government that are forcing consumers to switch. That is true in one way but the real answer is that the TV industry really want to switch – DTV is cheaper and easier to broadcast, with better quality and greater possibilities to develop the media as never before.

That bring forward another question: Will cable TV companies loose viewers and subscribers?

When DTV over-the-air is in full force perceived as a “new” way to watch TV with greater local choices than before and at no monthly cost – will consumers that feel tied by the cable companies switch to this kind of TV?

The DTV campaigns will push many to go online and check out the facts. Many cable viewers will believe that they are affected by the transition. Will they take another step – to leave the monthly subscription model for free TV?

That haven’t been the case during Sweden’s transition to DTV – but who knows about the U.S?

Lets get back to the debate – when it is in motion.

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