A new survey by ABI Research indicates that the majority of those television viewers in the U.S. who still use an antenna to view television broadcasts direct from the tower will switch to cable, or satellite services next February, when all U.S. TV broadcasting goes digital. But a significant number of analog TV viewers say they will simply let their sets go dark — with the exception, we presume, of the occasional DVD movie or console gaming session.

The ABI survey revealed that some 15 per cent of all U.S. TV viewers still rely on a traditional antenna to receive direct-broadcast channels, while a whopping 85 per cent have already switched to cable or satellite TV services. Many of those still using antennas live in rural areas where cable service is not available.

Among the analog holdouts, ABI says 70 per cent will install a digital converter box between their sets and their antennas, and 10 per cent will spring for cable or satellite service. But a full 20 per cent say they will simply stop watching broadcast TV.

ABI Principle Analyst Steve Wilson notes,“Terrestrial viewers tend to be more likely to use alternative video entertainment forms such as DVD rentals and broadband video and the transition may push them further in that direction.”

Traditional analog free-to-air TV transmissions will cease in the U.S. on February 17, 2009.

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