This Friday sees US television going 100 per cent digital, a move that has impacted on over a quarter of households which have had to invest in new TV sets and/or services to prepare for the June 12th changeover.

However, researchers say that the switch to digital has changed traditional viewing habits.

David Tice, vice president of Knowledge Networks, said its report, How People Use HDTV 2009, will show that one-third of those with high-definition TV reception always check their HD channels first when channel surfing or checking for a program.

He said the digital transition is bringing more channels – sometimes dozens more – into nearly one-quarter of US TV households.

This is vastly expanding the numbers of programs and advertisements they can be exposed to.

"And our research has shown that having high-definition TV (HDTV) reception changes viewing behavior, prompting many people to check HD channels first when they sit down to watch TV," he said.

"The result is that the digital transition as a whole seems destined to alter long-standing TV behaviors in many US homes."

The report will also indicate that those with HDTV reception are more selective about what they watch and more likely to plan viewing in advance. KN will be releasing the new HDTV report in July.

A separate report from Knowledge Networks has found that 26 per cent of US homes invested in new TV sets and/or services in the past year to prepare for the June 12th changeover.

The data, collected from February to April this year, shows that among TV households:

  • 18 per cent said they had bought a digital converter to adapt a standard definition set to receive digital signals
  • 8 per cent bought a digital or HDTV set specifically in preparation for the transition
  • 5 per cent started a new subscription to a pay television service such as cable or satellite TV, also specifically in anticipation of the switch to digital

(There is some overlap among the above groups; the net value is 26 per cent)

Awareness of the transition has increased to 91 per cent of all TV homes, up from 85 per cent in 2008 and 45 per cent in 2007. All subgroups – whether by householder age, race, ethnicity, or reception type – report awareness over 90 per cent.

Among the 18 per cent of TV homes that bought a digital converter, most (80 per cent) utilized the government coupon program. In homes that still have only broadcast reception, three times as many (53 per cent) report they bought a digital converter in the past year, and 93 per cent of those used the coupon program.

The number of sets per home relying on regular broadcast reception averaged 0.48 in the new survey; this is almost two-thirds less compared with KN’s spring 2006 survey, when the average was 1.32.

The report said that between their awareness of the transition and evidence of adaptation to this new broadcast standard, it is clear Americans have received the message about the transition loud and clear.

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