Info & Answers
How 5 Electronics Dealers Are Spending DTV Transition Week
Best Buy, Amazon, Radio Shack, OnForce and Zip Express look to capitalize on built-in demand for TV upgrades and knowledge.
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With its StaticAcrossAmerica.com site, Zip Express provides DTV transition information while promoting its antenna packages. 
June 11, 2009 by Tom LeBlanc

Tomorrow, June 12 is essentially the second analog to DTV transition deadline because President Obama signed a bill to delay the original Feb. 17 deadline.

With a four-month extension, let’s see what formulas electronics outlets came up with to capitalize on the built-in consumer demand for TV upgrades and knowledge.

After all, there are still 2.8 million homes unprepared for the switch. Following are tactics that some electronics outlets are using to leverage the DTV transition.

RadioShack: Education and Advice
It issued a press release indicating that it’s reminding consumers to make sure they rescan their digital-to-analog converter boxes after June 12, since some digital stations will move down the dial.

It’s also offering a DTV Transition Learning Course, which is available for free online.

OnForce: Whatever it Takes
OnForce, a nationwide network of 13,000 service professionals, is doing a lot of converter box and satellite system installations, according to CEO Peter Cannone.

Although OnForce isn’t doing any DTV transition promotions per se, Cannone says its service providers’ ability to buy products wholesale allows them to be “hyper competitive” with big box stores.

Best Buy: FAQs
A section of its Web site is dedicated to answering questions about the transition. At the top, it lists three major solutions: “buy a converter box,” “subscribe to a paid TV service” or “buy a TV with a built-in digital tuner.” Click on each and it explains how Best Buy can help you go that route.

Zip Express: Interactive Site
The nationwide electronics installer has a Web site, StaticAcrossAmerica.com, dedicated to explaining, reporting on and blogging about the transition. Of course, it also promotes some Zip Express digital antenna package deals.

Amazon.com: Hype
June 8–12 is “High Def Week” on Amazon.com. What a coincidence!

The online retailer actually doesn’t link a lot of its promotion to the DTV transition. It seems to be more about Father’s Day, which is nine days later.

Low Expectations

All of these retailers, although they might experience a DTV transition bump, are in an unfortunate situation. The DTV transition is coming at a bad time. Mired in a recession, consumers aren’t as likely to justify upgrading their TVs as they are to take the cheaper option of buying a converter box. Ironically, the economy won’t benefit with the boon it might have if it were healthier.

Cannone agrees, adding that although OnForce is doing more service on existing TVs and obviously converter box installations, consumers are finding it hard to justify TV upgrades.

“A year ago, we would have expected a bigger spike, but the mindset of the consumer has totally changed; it’s survival mode,” Cannone says.

However, he expects pent-up demand for TV upgrades to stimulate the market in the coming months.

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