[opendtv] Re: Fewer than 2 Million have OTA DTV in US

  • From: "John Willkie" <johnwillkie@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 24 Dec 2006 12:22:51 -0800

Good to seem some figures, Dennis.


If this is truly a study, don't you need to account for the margin of error?
Last time I checked, it was nationally around 2%.  So, your 14% figure is
somewhere between 12 and 16%.  IIRC, LA's margin of error as stated by
Nielsen is a bit bigger .


I did a quick analysis some years back.  The independent stations in San
Diego may have had low prime-time ratings (a market more than 88%
cable/satellite), but more than a third of their viewership was among that
small sliver.


John Willkie



From: opendtv-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:opendtv-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On
Behalf Of Haarsager, Dennis
Sent: Sunday, December 24, 2006 7:49 AM
To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [opendtv] Re: Fewer than 2 Million have OTA DTV in US


I just completed a study of OTA HH in the US using data from Nielsen Media
(which you can find market-by-market under the research tab on the TVB site)
and the FCC, updating one from three years ago.  Like most such studies, the
In-Stat estimate of 13% fails to account for the roughly 1% of HH that
subscribe to both wired cable and ADS (largely DBS), so the "OTA exclusives"
should be 14%.  It also does not account for a larger but unknown number
"OTA supplementals," those in ADS households who use OTA for local channels
or for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. sets in their home.  


The OTA exclusives number has fallen nearly 4 million households since the
earlier study (almost entirely due to DBS growth fueled by
local-into-local), but that still leaves sizable OTA-exclusive numbers.  Los
Angeles has 20.6% OTA exclusives -- 1,139,000 homes.
Harlingen-Weslaco-Brownsville-McAllen TX has 37.9%, El Paso TX-Las Cruces NM
32.7%, and Boise ID 30.8% OTA exclusives.


A complete chart of the market-by-market numbers is linked to a blog posting
I made summarizing this at


I'm GM of two PBS stations in Washington State, and therefore definitely
have a dog in this fight, but to the point of Bob's quote from Chairman
Powell, there is a public policy element to this that goes to the economic
viability of free OTA television.  In a world with dying newspapers and an
increasing spread of economic circumstances among our country's residents,
the idea of some source other than paid satellite-fed TV seems to be worth
protecting.  Research on the public television side has shown that the
economic value of OTA households is *way* larger to stations than that of
cable homes, so presumably that's the case for commercial stations as well.
Bob's long-time criticism of ATSC has been spot-on (a decade of DTV has gone
by and I just bought my first ATSC set-top box, a 5th-gen chip Samsung, that
can get Spokane stations 60 miles from my home).  It may very well be too
late to salvage free OTA television, but that's what we're protecting.





Bob Miller writes:


Less Than 2 Million OTA Digital Users
That means less than 1.8% of the 110 million US households are
receiving OTA DTV after NINE years.
Wildly optimistic IMO.
A high percentage of those CAN receive OTA DTV but RELY on cable or
satellite. That is they have earlier attached an antenna but don't use
it or seldom use it now.
How many RELY on OTA DTV? Maybe .5% IMO. Real die-hards. OTA DTV is
becoming a backup system for a select few who even know it exist. Just
in case another Katrina kills cable and satellite. In the meantime the
UK is at 75% of DTV penetration and they actually know they have OTA
receivers in the UK because they freely purchased them to receive OTA.
As former Chairman Powell said "What are we protecting?"
Bob Miller


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