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Nielsen: 9.6 Million Households Still Unprepared For DTV Switch

According to Nielsen, 9.6 million households would receive no TV at all if the DTV transition happened today.

In addition, another 12.6 million have at least one analog-only TV set in the house not hooked up to cable or satellite or DTV-to-analog converter box that won't receive a digital signal after the Feb. 17 transition.

That translates to one in five homes not entirely ready for the switch with four months to go.

The number of  "fully unprepared homes" decreased by only 1.4 percentage points between May 1 and Sept. 1, said Nielsen, which leaves 8.4% unready.

The most unprepared matket is Houston, with 15.8% unprepared, while the most prepared market is Fort Myers-Naples, FL, with only 2.4% unprepared, according to Nielsen.

But Nielsen also pointed out that one-quarter of the unready sets in households aren't being used for TV watching, but instead for video games or watching DVD. So, some of those unready sets will never be used for TV tuning and never converted.

The study found that households with less education, lower income and blue collar workers were the least prepared, and that there remained a race gap, with older, white Americans better prepared than Hispanics, African Americans or Asians.

For example, 13% of Hispanic households are unready, as are 12.5% of African American households.

According to Nielsen, owners of "unready" TV sets have predominately removed or replaced them (38%), switched to cable or satellite (37%) or gotten a DTV-to-analog converter box.

The FCC and National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA administers the converter box coupon program) are encouraging viewers to order and try out their boxes before the end of the year. NTIA is expecting a spike in coupons requests and says that viewers need to have applied for the boxes by the end of December to make sure they can get the coupons, buy and try the boxes before the Feb. 17 cut-off date.

It will need to be even sooner for some markets. Hawaii is making the switch a month early, while some places with tough winters or other issues are switching even earlier.

Check out B&C and's series of videos on the DTV transition here.