20 september 2007

Digital television switch: next month

I would call it a historic moment and the beginning of a new era for competition in the television market. There's about one month until Sweden takes down the analog towers. However, it's not the beginning of a new digital era at all. As long as the majority of viewers watch their channels in analog format over analog cable, the content and offers will remain the same for an undetermined period of time. TV channels are going to continue broadcast and market their analog Teletext services, channels are going to continue mix entertainment content with sports content despite dedicated sports channels existing today. Digital cable box companies are going to continue a slow pace in manufacturing and constructing high-quality boxes until the demand is high enough, at least that's my current prediction of our market here.

It's really too bad that nothing will change for years to come, just because one single company dominates the market here and happens to decide they aren't going to go completely digital and worst of all, they don't leave a final date to switch off analog broadcasts either, since they are probably afraid of their customers swarming customer phone service immediately if they do. 

Right now, they are trying to sell voluntary subscriptions to their household customers and it's going pretty slow so far. About 10 % out of their 1.7 million households have made the switch. Their strategy is probably to wait many years, until their numbers show more than 51 % have switched to digital. But how long exactly will that take, with the current growth being so low? Also, what can be done today to make people realize it's better to view digital than analog? Personally I think the company has got to open up so that a couple of unencrypted channels will be seen and experienced by people who buy a television with a DVB-C tuner equipped. Maybe at that point, those people will think: "Oh wow! That's nice! Is that how every channel will look like if I switch to digital? I think I will do that now!"

I wait for the day they do exactly that, to push digital to more households. Let's hope they do!