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

  • From: "Bob Miller" <robmxa@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 24 Dec 2006 12:16:27 -0500

On 12/24/06, Haarsager, Dennis <haarsager@xxxxxxx> wrote:

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.


The big numbers of OTA exclusives all cluster in larger cities
according to your list. I think most of us assumed that.

These folks are more likely to know nothing about the coming
transition, have little access to rooftop antennas and be willing to
make a very big fuss when even a minute of their favorite program goes

It is going to be interesting since the US will be going more cold
turkey with the worst modulation and least educated public of any
country so far. Basically our OTA tranistion will BEGIN in early 2009.

It will COME soon after the Chinese will have done their very best to
show off their ostensibly locally derived OTA digital modulation
DMB-TH. It will come as the UK approaches 100% digital households with
many having 5 or more receivers.

Cost of receivers, unsubsidized, will be as low as $20 in both the UK
and China while in the US some kind of Rube Goldberg/Haliburton
assisted God awful distribution of minimalist SD only OTA DTV
receivers will finally be examined by the press in all its glory.

It will cost the US Government $200 to subsidize $40 of the cost of
and distribute these same "converter boxes". It will cost the
unsuspecting public another $50 plus with the subsidy to buy one.

Will they have an LED included to tell us if they are on?

It is going to be interesting politically.

Bob Miller

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