According to a new survey by ABI Research, 20 percent of TV viewers--3 million Americans--who rely on analog over-the-air reception will let their sets go "dark" after the DTV transition on February 17, 2009.
The firm's Web-based survey of 1002 U.S. consumers found that 70 percent will purchase a DTV converter box, 10 percent will switch to cable, and 20 percent will do nothing, causing their old analog TVs, which are incapable of receiving the new broadcasts without additional equipment, to go dark or display only snow. Currently, 15 percent of Americans get their TV from over-the-air broadcasts, while the remainder subscribe to cable or satellite services.
The survey also found that non-traditional TV content delivery methods, such as DVD rentals and video options available via broadband Internet, might help fill the gap for customers deciding to ditch broadcast TV.
"Our survey data suggest that the net result of consumers' choices after analog switch-off will be a drop in overall terrestrial viewing," said ABI analyst Steve Wilson. "Terrestrial viewers tend to be more likely to use alternative video entertainment forms such as DVD rentals and broadband video and the transition may push them further in that direction."
Government officials have called for more consumer education leading up to the transition date but nonetheless predict that a change of this magnitude could be "messy" and a potential "communications crisis."
What's your take? Does the decision by so many Americans to stop watching broadcast TV altogether spell doom for an outmoded delivery system? Or is the transition no big deal after all? Let us know in the comments section.