Nielsen: Viewing Rebounds After Early Post-DTV Decline

Viewership to TV stations in the two weeks following the June 12 end of full-power analog dipped, according to Nielsen, but that was "largely temporary" and levels have been returning in the ensuing weeks, said the ratings company.

Nielsen also said that most of the homes that became digital-ready in the months just prior to the switch did so by installing a converter box, rather than signing up for a multichannel service, though that multichannel pick-up number was still over 20%, and translated to hundreds of thousands of new homes..

That is according to a blog posting from Sara Erichson, president, Media Client Services North America for the ratings company.

Nielsen attributed the drop in part to households that had to re-scan for DTV channels or get a new antenna after the switch, noting that the stations most affected by the switch were those that moved from a UHF DTV channel to a VHF DTV channel.

Some stations that moved from UHF to VHF digital channels had trouble reaching apartments, condos and buildings in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Boston, for example, though the FCC has worked with the stations to provide fixes via power boosts or educating viewers about the need to rescan or get a new antenna.

Erichson also said that, as of June 28, 60% of the homes Nielsen identified as still completely unready for DTV --about 1.7 million -- could still see some analog TV via a low-power station, a Canadian or Mexican station for those near a border, and via translators in some areas.

Erichson said that of the TV sets that became digital-ready in "the few months" prior to June 12, 77% did so via a digital converter box; 19% by subscribing to cable, and 4% by signing up for a DBS service.

Nielsen, which has been providing weekly updates on DTV readiness, has scaled back to every two-weeks, and following next week's update, will release them monthly.

According to the July 16 update, 1.5 million homes (1.3% of TV households) remained completely unready for DTV, which translates as no DTV set, no DTV-to-ananlog converter boxes hooked up, and no cable or satellite service.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.