Actually, that is the number of households that have exclusively analog over-the-air TV service, Nielsen estimated, which means that if the transition happened today, they would not get a picture. If true, that number is down dramatically from the 22 million, or about 19% of households, that were identified as analog only in a Feb. 17, 2005, Government Accountability Office study.
Another 6 million have at least one analog-only set, Nielsen said.
Somewhat surprisingly, its study also found that older Americans -- 55 and over -- are "better prepared" than younger households, with whites and Asians "more ready" than blacks and Hispanics.
Nielsen spokeswoman Anne Elliot said the figures were meant to suggest that the DTV transition is looming and to "convey to our clients where they stand and how much effort they need to make."
Among the other findings:
• 16.8% of all households have at least one analog television set that would not work after the switch.
• New York is the most ready local television market, with just 3.5% “unready” television sets.
• Portland, Ore., is the least prepared local market, with 22.4% of all households using only analog sets and over-the-air television."
The figures were extrapolated from Nielsen's 35,000 metered samples, and Elliot pointed out that the information was collected by field staffers actually in the homes determining whether viewers were actually getting digital TV, rather than, say, a survey in which the respondent had just seen a TV-station ad talking about its HD lineup and assuming that meant they were getting digital.
Nielsen is releasing the information at a client meeting in Las Vegas Friday in advance of the Feb. 17 date that marks one year out from the digital transition.
In November, Nielsen's estimate was 13.5 million homes, so the number is giong down quarter-to-quarter, Elliot said.