Picture This1 Mar, 2009 By: Response Contributor Response
Internet and television meet in the living room while American viewers learn the term DTV.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was scheduled to flip the switch. Following nearly a decade of planning, two years of public service announcements and $1.34 billion worth of consumer vouchers handed out to defray the cost of replacing bunny ear antennas with digital converter boxes, the feds were ready to shut down analog broadcasting by enforcing a February 17 mandate requiring all broadcast stations to transmit in digital.
However, after much wrangling, and a pair of votes in both houses of Congress, a Feb. 4 vote in the U.S. House of Representatives delayed the deadline until June 12, at the behest of the Obama administration and other parties concerned that too many Americans were unprepared for the switch.
With more than 6.5 million homes still not up to digital speed in January, according to Nielsen, the delay is not a total shock. Still, no matter whether those 6.5 million households step up in the interim, it appears that the new June date is a final hard deadline. When it finally comes, how will this change affect Sunday morning infomercial viewership?
"As an agency representing my advertisers, my main concern first and foremost always is, 'Are my advertisers getting optimal coverage for the budget they are spending?'" says Sandra Cercone, president of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based JBT Media Management. "Based on my research, nearly 22 million households are affected by the [digital television] DTV transition. Unless everyone is able to upgrade, our advertisers' potential customers could lose reception entirely. This is what worries me as the consequences of this will undoubtedly impact our clients' advertising efforts."
AppleTV offers Internet content, such as iTunes music and video, on your TV. This year's upgrade, introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, offers movie rentals and downloadable TV shows.
So while more than 70 percent of the nearly 22 million households affected by the transition, have upgraded accordingly, that remaining 30 percent of outliers is still a concern for all television advertisers.
Pulling the Plug on Analog
Putting an end to analog TV broadcasting has been a treacherous process with still unresolved issues, and who could have foreseen the harrowing economy that 2009 would bring as this legislation started to materialize? But the opportunities that DTV brings more than compensate for transitional road bumps. With all-digital broadcasting, some of the freed-up analog space will be used for public safety communications and first responders, while other portions will be auctioned off to companies that will create even more advanced communication services, such as high-speed wireless broadband.
The benefit to broadcasters, marketers and consumers is improved picture and sound quality, as well as multicasting – a term used to describe multiple streams of programming transmitted from a single channel. For example, Channel 7 streams to Channel 7-1, 7-2, 7-3, etc. Or, it can also transmit one crystal-clear high definition channel. More streams mean more programming choices for consumers and potentially more advertising opportunities for DRTV marketers.
The ZvBox removes the middle man by turning a home computer into a streaming HD channel without the need for a set-top box. With this "localcasting," the stream can reach any TV in the house up to 150 feet.
"What the DTV transition does create is, hopefully, an exciting and major growth opportunity for advertisers everywhere," says Cercone. "With multicasting, advertisers now have the opportunity to reach a much broader audience on channels that didn't exist before. That is always good news in our business."
However, the many viewers who would have woken up to dead air had the switch occurred in February, was a grave enough concern to delay the process. Those who have been unable to upgrade to digital generally fall into two categories: either a local broadcaster could not reach their previous coverage area entirely with the new digital signal, or the consumer's TV was incapable of receiving digital programming.