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

  • From: "Haarsager, Dennis" <haarsager@xxxxxxx>
  • To: <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 24 Dec 2006 07:48:53 -0800

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
tml . 
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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