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Bye Bye, Rabbit Ears

antennaddd.jpgAs someone who once lived in a log cabin and often had to run outside to adjust the TV antenna attached to the roof, I have to admit I’m feeling a certain amount of nostalgia now that rabbit ears are going the way of the dodo bird.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced yesterday a digital-to-analog converter subsidy program in advance of the 2/19/09 digital television switchover. One more step toward assuring that the deadline is not delayed again.

Plenty of news organizations have covered the story including CNET, TV Squad, The Washington Post (Reuters) and The Boston Globe (AP). The gist is that if you’re not going to cough up money for a digital TV set, you will at least get a little help to defray the costs ($50-$75) of a converter box in 2009.

I’ve seen numbers before about how many cable customers are already watching digital TV, but I thought I’d go back and double check. As I thought had remembered reading, digital cable subscribers now outnumber analog cable customers in the nation’s two largest cable systems. Of course those figures don’t take into account the many non-cable subscribers in the country, but it’s still an interesting statistic. At the end of 2006, 52% of Comcast cable customers subscribed to digital cable services. 54% of Time Warner Cable customers did the same.

*Note: Photo courtesy of TV Squad


6 Responses

  1. But how many of those digital cable subscribers are also using the analog services? I subscribe to digital cable, and that primarily feeds my Series3 TiVo with CableCARDs.

    However, sitting right next to it, I have a Series2 TiVo taking the cable directly – no cable box – and utilizing the analog channels. I also split the same cable and feed the analog cable into the TV’s tuner so visitors can use the TV if I’m recording on the TiVos.

    I also have a Series2 TiVo in my bedroom, that one is using a cable box. But I used to have a Series2DT for a while, and that used the analog channels for the dual-tuners, with the box for just the digital-only channels.

    I know others who have mixed use homes – maybe using the digital channels in the living room, but only the analog channels in the bedrooms – just to avoid more cable boxes, etc.

  2. A very good point. I doubt many people have the kind of set-up you’re talking about, but I can certainly imagine a digital set-top in one room with analog-only cable in other rooms. That said, I would think it would get frustrating to have certain features in some places and not in others. If we spent time anywhere but our living room, I’d be annoyed not to have DVR everywhere.

  3. […] 16th, 2007 · No Comments In case this month’s Rabbit Ears Ruling wasn’t enough, there are officially no more analog TVs that retailers can buy to sell.  Mark […]

  4. Antennas are going to be around for a long time. Analog does not equal rabbit ears. Those rabbit ears will just receive digital broadcasts. I use rabbit ears on an HDTV and it is better than cable. Free and in HD.

    Google “over the air HD.”

  5. Kevin- You’re absolutely right. But the ubiquitous rabbit ears of the 1980s have turned over a lot of ground (air?) to cable and telco connections. Going digital doesn’t coincide with the disappearance of antennas, but it certainly feels like the end of an era.

    To further denigrate my point, now it looks like set-tops main *gain* antennas. How retro…

  6. I agree with MegaZone. A lot of people will have a digital/analog mix. Who wants to pay for another box (until we have to). I have an HDTV set up for my main great room tv with a high end DVR and HD set top box, a digital set top box for my second family room and two other tvs running off analog in bedrooms. After seeing my cable bill up to $160 for TV and high speed internet, I’ll be darned if I pay more for two more digital boxes. Not having the same features on all the tvs doesn’t bother me — yet.

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