Stakeholders Unite Today at Best Buy Box Event In D.C

February 7, 2008

Today there is a grand get together at a local Best Buy Store in Washington D.C. The chief executives of the prime stakeholders are gathering to promote the “soon to come to a store near you” – DTV converter box. Few have seen any but many are asking where they are. Best Buy promises to get their boxes on shelfs on the 18th of February. However, it will only be one of a kind to choose from – Best Buys own brand Insignia. The box will cost $50-$70. The question is if other retailers will match Best Buys offer with a greater selection. And it is only a month ago that Best Buy Executives expressed concerns and even being nervous about not being able to get boxes on shelfs in time.

On stage today you will find: The U.S Commerce Secretary Mr Carlos Gutierrez, FCC chairman Kevin Martin, NAB president and CEO David K. Rehr, National Cable & Telecommunications Association, NCTA, president Kyle McSlarrow together with Consumer Electronics Association, CEA, vice president Jason Oxman and Best Buy senior VP Michael Vitelli. NTIA is represented by the Secretary of Commerce.

Some of the stakeholders that gathers today in D.C will also be the ones that consumers will hold accountable if something in the transition backfires. I think it is a great thing that they come together because it is easy to believe as one local paper put it that Congress has ordered broadcasters to shut down the analog transmissions and switch to digital. The facts is that many stakeholders are working together as never before to make this transition a smooth one. I hope the stakeholders can put a just as positive spin on the DTV transition as some superduper political contenders has done in their campaigns. After all, there are few national events to match a national transition to digital television. Be sure that this D-day will be greatly covered by news media.

Local newspapers are picking up the story about the transition in an increasing amount. Most of them put out the basic facts about the transition. Even if the confusion still seam to be great. I guess the primaries have put enough on peoples minds to care about little else.

The thing is that the market should be flooded this year with boxes to choose from and the prices should start to drop a bit. No one wants people to wait to the last few days before the actual transition. Even if you have to count somewhere around 5-10 percent who will do just that.

I get messages from people all over the US who is asking why the converter box coupons are “released” but no boxes in stores to be find anywhere. One lady even asked me to send her a box and attached her address. Well, it’s great that people put confidence in this blog but we do not sell converter boxes, yet…

But what I do offer is knowledge and experience. Or that might be spelled Hope to make the Change to DTV, in these primary times. Because it will be an astonishing difference – to the better. And I am talking TV now..

Yours truly

/ Anders Bjers

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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


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