LOS ANGELES, March 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumer confusion about the
coming transition from analog to digital broadcasting that takes place on
February 17, 2009, remains high. According to a Frank N. Magid Associates
online tracking study, six in ten Americans are now aware of the scheduled
change. While this is up significantly from just six months ago, 80 million
American adults remain unaware of the digital broadcasting mandate less
than one year away. These facts are revealed in the first study on the
subject since the broadcasting and cable industries began promoting their
intensified effort to educate consumers about the impact of the upcoming
In an online survey, Magid Media Futures(TM) tracked more than 1,000
consumers' educated awareness of the digital broadcast transition and their
adoption of high definition television. With less than 11 months to go
until the actual transition date, many organizations involved in
broadcasting, cable, satellite and consumer electronics are concerned about
Initial findings suggest that the combined efforts of the U.S.
government and the many industries committed to educating consumers about
digital television are having a positive impact on both awareness of the
transition and specific details about the impact of the transition on TV
viewers. After languishing in the 30 to 40 percent range for several years
now, consumer awareness of local broadcasters' digital signals jumped from
34 percent in September 2007 to 59 percent in February 2008.
"Our firm has been tracking consumer awareness of digital television
for nearly 10 years now, really since the U.S. government announced the
first transition date in 1998 of April 2006. Once that deadline changed,
consumer awareness dropped off again," said Maryann Baldwin, Vice President
of Magid Media Futures(TM). "But with a true countdown upon us now, this
growth in awareness proves the power of the coordinated education effort
among all parties involved. There is still much work to be done, but the
initial progress is encouraging."
In a similar study conducted in 2002, 42 percent of consumers said they
were aware of digital television. That awareness dropped to a low of 28
percent in 2004; however, in 2008 it has more than doubled. An encouraging
finding here is that those residing in "over-the-air-only" homes -- those
most significantly impacted by the analog broadcast shutoff -- show a
higher level of awareness at 63 percent, up from 35 percent last fall.
Also evident in the Magid study is consumers' ability to identify
statements that accurately characterize the impact of the digital
transition. "Our findings last fall were definitely cause for concern, with
only one-third of consumers aware that some people would not be able to
receive local television transmissions, and only 12 percent aware that a
government program would be available to assist those who need to acquire a
digital receiver," reports Baldwin.
Highlights from results tracking findings from September 2007 to
February 2008 include:
-- Awareness of the fact that some consumers, with current TV reception
arrangements, will not be able to receive TV signals after the
transition increased from 35 percent to 52 percent.
-- Satellite and cable customers aware they will be able to receive local
TV signals through their provider's service after the transition,
regardless of their TV tuner type, grew from 27 percent to 45 percent.
At the same time, certain concerns emerge. The group of consumers who
believe that the digital transition means that all television programming
will be available in high definition also grew during this period, from 23
percent to 29 percent. While digital transmission will make the delivery of
high- definition content possible over the air, it does not mean that all
channels and networks will actually offer all of their programming in high
"If this trend in consumer expectations continues, cable and satellite
television providers will want to prepare for an onslaught of customer
questions in the coming months," says Jill Rosengard Hill, Vice President
and Managing Director at Frank N. Magid Associates. "If a large proportion
of HD customers expect that their entire channel lineup will be presented
in high definition on February 17, there will be customer frustration and
the switchboards will light up." Currently, 32 percent of those who
subscribe to cable or satellite HD service believe this to be true.
Finally, there is encouraging news about the government's coupon
program to subsidize digital-to-analog converter-box purchases among those
who need them most. Not only have 53 percent of consumers heard about the
program overall, but 64 percent of those who depend on over-the-air signals
for television reception have heard about the program. Twenty-nine percent
of over-the-air-only consumers report that they have already applied for
their coupons. The NTIA began fulfilling consumer requests for these
coupons in late February.
Magid conducted this online research among 1,200 consumers nationally
representative of the U.S. online population, age 21 and over. A written
report on the study is now available for purchase. Contact Jill Rosengard
Hill at 212-515-4523 or Jrosengardhill@magid.com.
Frank N. Magid Associates, Inc., founded in 1957, is the world leader
in providing research-based strategy solutions to a variety of businesses
representing all aspects of the media, entertainment, and communication
industries. With nearly 350 employees operating out of offices in New York,
Los Angeles, London, Minneapolis, and Cedar Rapids, Magid serves hundreds
of clients in more than 35 countries worldwide. Magid works with its
clients to achieve success by gathering exceptional consumer insights and
developing and executing strategies that maximize client performance.
The valuable perspectives gained over thousands of engagements and
millions of consumer interviews and observations have also made Magid
highly sought after among business leaders and investors as they map out
the future. The company's Magid Media Futures(TM) unit is recognized as
providing highly predictive and prescriptive data-driven insights on the
future of media. More recently, Magid's Millennial Strategy Program(TM) is
helping operators and investors develop successful strategies to access
this potent consumer segment.
SOURCE Frank N. Magid Associates