Forgoing broadcast television

According to a new survey from ABI Research, 20% of U.S. television viewers who get their programming over the air will stop watching television broadcasts rather than purchase a digital tuner. In the United States, all analog television broadcasts will end in February 2009. Digital broadcasts require a digital tuner, either in the form of a digital-ready television, or a digital tuner for one’s existing television.

Contrary to popular perception, this transition doesn’t necessarily affect cable and satellite transmissions. They are not over the public airwaves so the service providers can continue to offer analogue signals if they choose.

These 20% who will not get a digital tuner will simply rent DVDs, watch programs on their computers, or give up television entirely. As for myself, since I’ve dropped any vestiges of premium channels on my cable subscription, I’ve wondered if the $32 I pay each month is really worth it for what I’m getting. With almost no exceptions, what I watch is limited to the channels otherwise available over the air. I could try an antenna, and if the selection of channels is sufficient, and if reception is of good enough quality, I could forgo cable entirely and save and additional $32 a month, or nearly $400 a year. It’s appealing!

If I decided to think of the future, I could purchase a digital tuner and an appropriate antenna and I’d be prepared for the Canadian transition to digital-only transmissions at the end of August in 2011. I’d also be able to enjoy the better picture in the meantime.

I have no problem with paying for a service I use. If I watched more television, I wouldn’t question the cost of cable. The only reason I am is that my average broadcast television consumption probably averages out to about an hour a day. Is that worth a dollar to me when I can get the same thing for free after a small initial investment?

Research is required, so I’ll have to invest the time to do it. Eventually. It’s hardly of critical importance.


Source: Nate Anderson, “20% of antenna users to let TV sets go dark in 2009,” Ars Technica, October 22, 2008

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One Comment

  1. Shawn
    Posted October 24, 2008 at 08:14 | Permalink

    Hmmm, 20% eh? I highly doubt it. They say that now because they are angry they have to buy the subsidised box (yes they are govt. subsidised in the US). But I bet when the set goes dark, about two weeks later they will cave. Like all other drug addicts, they will need their fix.

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