Thursday, 5 April 2012

The big digital switchover – spreading the word is key

London was the latest region to flip the digital switch this week. Analogue BBC Two was turned off in Crystal Palace on 04th April, with the rest of the terrestrial station signals set to be stopped over the next week.

The campaign to raise awareness of the switchover has been running for some years now, but there is still some confusion about what the switchover means for consumers. In fact, it’s estimated that 1 million homes in London are not ready for the big switchover.

The initial switch to digital began in 2006 and since then an ongoing campaign has been led by Digital UK. Their aim has been to get the country up to speed on what they need to do to be ready to take advantage of what digital has to offer. So far the campaign has cost £630million and has set a target of getting 98.5 per cent of the UK population switched over to digital.

For viewers that haven’t retuned their televisions or invested in the next generation of connected TVs, they might be wondering what exactly all the fuss is about. Well, there are a whole host of benefits to be had from HD content to interactive services. In addition to this, having connected TVs and set-top boxes allows consumers to access a range of premium on-demand content. Since the beginning of the year, the competition in the connected TV industry has really ratcheted up. With Netflix joining LOVEFiLM in the UK market, there are some great deals to be had for consumers wanting to gain access to the latest films and TV shows.

Digital UK has made some good progress in getting viewers ready for the change, consumer guides showing what is on offer help, but there is still more work to be done. While there has been a lot of noise about the digital switchover itself, consumers still aren’t receiving the education and support they need to make the most of innovative new TV services. Many are investing in new devices, like connected TVs, but the key features remain unused.

We’ve only scratched the surface of what the connected TV can achieve and it’s important the consumer buys into it. The broadcast and retail industry need to undertake a significant education process, working in sync with new technology developments as a result of the digital switch, to ensure the viewer gets the most out of new connected TV devices. With that consumer base in place, we’ll see more and more interactive content and features made available that will enable viewers get more from their favourite shows.

It’s been a good start so far and we hope to see more positive media coverage in the months to come championing digital TV. It’s up to all of us working within the industry to help inform consumers and spread the word to ensure everyone is able to take advantage of new technology advances.

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