Nielsen: 7 Million Homes Unprepared For DTV Transition

The least prepared markets are Albuquerque-Santa Fe, Tulsa, Houston and Dallas Fort Worth

As of this month, 6.8% of (or about 7 million) U.S. households are completely unready for the DTV switch, meaning they have only over-the-air analog service and have yet to do anything about it.

That is according to Nielsen's latest tracking of DTV-readiness. But that percentage is down from the 7.4% who weren't ready in November.

They will need to be ready by Feb. 17, 2009, when the analog signal is being shut off (except possibly for a brief period for DTV info and emergency info only). Some markets/stations are making the switch sooner, including all of Hawaii Jan. 15.

By completely unready, Nielsen means that none of the TV sets in the house are digital, or have a DTV-to-analog converter box, or are hooked up to cable or satellite.

The number of households that are "partially unready," meaning they have at least one unconnected, non-DTV set, is 10%, down a hair from November's 10.3%.

The least prepared markets are Albuquerque-Santa Fe at 13% unready, followed by Tulsa at 12.65%, Houston at 12.41%, and Dallas-Fort Worth at 11.71%.

That is not surprising since those are all markets with large Hispanic populations. According to Nielsen, that group continues to trail the general population in DTV readiness, with 11.5% of homes with Hispanic heads of household still unready.

Nielsen is basing those numbers on its National People Meter and local metered market samples, or something over 30,000 total.