Ready or Not
On Feb. 17, 2009, television will change as we know it. Consumers with analog television sets will no longer be able to receive over-the-air programming without investing in a set-top box or new digital television. While it may seem like a non-issue for many consumers who have already purchased HDTVs or subscribe to digital cable and satellite programming nationwide, many other TV watchers may be confused about how the transition will impact them. It’s often up to retailers to educate these customers about how they can continue to receive programming long before the transition takes effect.
The proponents of digital television, including the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), have long touted the benefits of the transition, like improved audio and video quality, better signal reception, and the opportunity for broadcasters to provide additional channels of programming, a feature known as multicasting. But explaining this to a customer who’s accustomed to free broadcasting, has yet to invest in a DTV or doesn’t even have a digital cable or satellite package isn’t always an easy sell.
Nicole Connors is one such consumer. The thirty-two year old lives alone in Lancaster, Pa., a small town 50 miles from Philadelphia. She works full time and doesn’t subscribe to Comcast digital cable or Direct TV, the two main TV services in the region. More than six years ago, she shared a basic cable connection with a roommate, but since then this Netflix subscriber can’t justify the expense of more than $40 per month. Instead, Connors, who admits she doesn’t know much about the DTV transition, watches two channels of free broadcasting on her old JVC unit, using rabbit ears. She’s had the TV since college.