A study conducted by DisplaySearch finds that to date, only 6% of Americans have redeemed a coupon to upgrade to a digital TV box to replace the source for their old TVs that are currently grabbing over-the-air signals. 23% of the respondents have at least one TV that is receiving programming in this manner, and close to 40% watch TV this way exclusively! As of February 2009 when the U.S. officially switches over to digital, none of these TVs will work.
Paul Gagnon, Director of North America TV Market Research for DisplaySearch points to the obvious reason of procrastination as what's holding these consumers back. This is especially so since more than half report that they do understand what the transition means, and believe that information has been adequately communicated to them.
"If a large number of consumers wait until the last minute," notes Gagnon, "there could be problems satisfying the surge in demand for converter boxes all at once, ultimately leaving some in the dark."
On the brighter side for the industry, perhaps frustrated consumers will run out to buy fancy, new flat-panel TVs so they don't miss their favourite programs. I'll bet money that there will be "DTV Transition" sales all over the U.S. targeting customers that don't want to wait in line for a DTV box for their old clunker. I can already envision taglines like "It's time to upgrade!" and "flat-panel is where it's at!" Lets face it: this is a very possible scenario considering that DisplaySearch numbers confirm over 25 million TVs that will require a transition to digital.
We've got 5 months to go. My advice to anyone in the U.S. that has an old TV and doesn't want to face the horrors of last minute rushes is to go now, grab your coupon, and enjoy a smooth transition come February.