With under 40 days remaining until the June 12 switch-off of analog TV stations across the United States, Nielsen Media Research reports that 3.1 percent of TV homes in the U.S. are still not prepared for the DTV transition.
That number amounts to 3.5 million households being caught by surprise when their analog-only over-the-air TV broadcasts go to snow next month. That's an improvement of about 1.5 million homes since a February 18 Nielsen survey, which is significant because the original switchover date was scheduled for February 17 before being delayed.
There's no sign of a delay for the June 12 deadline, which could indicate that the 3.5 million estimate is acceptable to lawmakers. In a recent interview, Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology & the Internet Chairman Rick Boucher said the transition is on "a very good path. I do not anticipate any further problems." He also cited improvements in the DTV coupon program owing to infusions of new cash as a result of the stimulus program.
Nielsen's report (PDF) names the Albuquerque/Santa Fe market as the least-ready for the transition, at 8.77 percent unpreparedness, while somehow the Providence/New Bedford market achieved 100 percent preparedness. The least prepared ethnic group is African-American (5.9 percent), followed by Hispanic (5 percent), Asian (4.1 percent) and finally white (2.4 percent). Despite the stereotype that the elderly are less aware of DTV than the young, just 1.7 percent of households headed by people above the age of 55 are unprepared, compared with 5.7 percent of households headed by people under 35.