U.S DTV Public Opinion Shifts From What To How

March 3, 2008

The past six months have been much about bringing awareness to consumers about the DTV transition. The mission for NAB and all the other stakeholders has been to awaken the general audience to the fact that TV as they know it is about to change: From analog to digital. That in combination with the offer to grab two DTV converter box coupons from NTIA.

I dare to say that the big push is almost over, in its first phase. (you cant stop this mission until the D-day is here but you need to move on at the same time with new challenges).

I believe there is a logic order in every national transition to DTV. The next step in this logic order is this:

Consumers are moving from WHAT to HOW. This is the zone we are about to enter with full force in the US right now.

New challenges are about to arise for stakeholders when consumers are starting to act on the messages they have received.

And the focus will be on the consumer from now on. What do they need, how will they really receive TV before and after the transition day, in digital quality.

And consumers will enter a new phase – the djungle of choices to make

This is a real challenge for stakeholders to become a supporting partner for every consumer entering a store to grab that converter box.

From now on and the remaining part of 2008 consumers will be forced to think through how they want to receive TV in the future. What kind of channels they think they want to watch and how much money do they want or need to spend.

And retailers will be there for them because the DTV transition offers a second season of Christmas like shopping for electronic goods. With the weakened U.S economy this transition will be a bigger thing than of the economy were strong and flourishing. Consumers will be both forced and “inspired” to spend billions of dollars on electronics.

So, the focus will be on the actions, demands and needs that consumers will have to be able to view TV as usual.

And the focus will be on retailers because that is the place were the shift from analog to digital TV really happens.

In that situation everyone will be looking for answers to common questions. The one retailer that will become the true expert on DTV will have consumers greatest confidence and that will lead to great sales.

How can I make these statements?

First, my own experience from transitions in Sweden tells this.

Second, signs are surfacing that strengthens my theory.

One is that Google search patterns has changed. During the past months most searches has been focusing on “DTV answers”. As a reaction to all the PSA:s put out by NAB and stakeholders.

A few weeks back people tend to search for more practical answers. I would say that only a rough third are searching for “DTV answers“. The rest is looking for information about converter boxes, antennas, reception and other kind of DTV related information.

Another sign is that reporting among local newspapers has changed a bit. From the big WHAT to HOW. Washington Post blogger Rob Pegoraro writes about his a first hand experience of the shift.

A third sign is that new stakeholders has appeared on the scene. One of them is U.S. PIRG – the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups.

Recently U.S. PIRG released the results from a national survey about retailers, consumers and the DTV transition. The titel of the survey is: Mixed Signals: How TV Retailers Mislead Consumers on the Digital Television (DTV) Transition

With the help of secret shoppers U.S. PIRG reports:

# 81% of sales staff provided inaccurate information about converter boxes.
# 78% of sales staff provided inaccurate information about the coupon program.
# 42% of sales staff provided inaccurate information about the transition date.
# 20% of sales staff tried to up-sell surveyors to digital TVs or upscale converter boxes.

This is a core challenge for stakeholders: To get sales staff to understand the real effects of the DTV transition.

That is: local issues and implications.

Examples:

– What about consumers reception.

– How to connect a converter box to a range of other equipment that consumers have started to use with TV sets.

– How to convert battery powered TV sets.

– How to continue to receive Low Powerd Broadcasters even if the don’t broadcast in digital after the transition (they do not need to)

– and other practical or semi-practical questions.

I will get back with some practical suggestions on how to manage this. But the shift is here and this is were the real work begins to make the transition a smooth experience for consumers.

Best / Anders Bjers

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Make DTV Transition A Green Step To New TV Age!

November 19, 2007

There is a match made in heaven between the transition to digital TV and the want from consumers to own flat screen TV sets. I have thought many times how great it is that flat TV sets have made a breakthrough to become a commodity in households all over the world. Or should I say the developed world? Why? Well while working with a transition you discover that viewing TV on a flat screen looks really bad the old analog way – but it is just fantastic with digital TV. So, the flat TV revolution is a great force that helps the DTV transition to be carried out faster and easier than else.

Today you can buy a decent flat screen TV for less than $ 500 at BestBuy or any other retailer. If you buy a flat screen you don’t want to use a analog signal. It looks really bad. You want to use a digital TV signal – that is just great TV.

However, with the sweep across the country due to the upcoming transition, many consumers will buy a new set with a built in DTV tuner. It will probably be a huge mass of TV sets to dispose. How can that be made in a green way? We do not want to have drifts of old TV sets made of tubes being dumped anyhow and anywhere. As Kelley Lehay is reporting at Green Daily – Good televisions never die – they get recycled.

AP is writing that TV makers are urged to be more responsible and make sure that TV-sets are recycled in a proper way. This due to upcoming transition that will make millions of sets obsolete if they aren’t connected to a converter box. The Electronics Take Back Coalition has launched a campaign to put pressure on TV makers and a special website –Take Back My TV – is dedicated to the mission. This far, only SONY USA has signed the the Take Back pledge.

If you want to (of course you want!) find a local place to recycle your old set properly – check this map. Otherwise, the set might end up in a country far away from you like China or Nigeria to be dumped there, something AP has reported about. Over time there is a great risk that it will contaminate the ground with lead or other dangerous substances. Something we don’t want to happen in our own backyard so why in someone else’s?
And we can take steps to urge TV makers to make the transition a green step to a new TV age. Send an E-mail today to TV-makers and urge them to secure a green recycling program for TV-sets in the U.S.

Speak up – and watch out – for old TV sets not dumped in a green way.

Anders Bjers