Met Rec survey results are in. About 10 percent of the county uses free TV

Respondents who use the TV system really like it

By Mark Reaman

The Gunnison County Metropolitan Recreation (Met Rec) District has released the results of its 2016 viewership survey and while probably less than 10 percent of the county population appears to use the free over-the-air television service, those who do use it really like it.

The Met Rec District has provided Television Translator service to the majority of Gunnison County and a part of Saguache County since 1978 when the district was formed. The cost of providing this service is essentially 100 percent of the general operating revenue of the district for fiscal year 2017, which is budgeted at $318,950. The survey was conducted this past summer and fall.

While 444 people responded to the survey, 389 of those responses were from unique households that use the service. A 2005 Met Rec survey indicated that 460 households used the television system. Extrapolating from some national surveys as well as the 2016 and 2005 Met Rec surveys, the MetRec board is projecting that between 589 and 678 local households use the Met Rec television system. That translates to between 9.3 percent and 10 percent of the total number of households within the Met Rec district.

The other 55 respondents to the 2016 questionnaire do not currently use the over-the-air television but 40 of them expressed an interest in using the system in the future. The MetRec board of directors made a thorough effort to make households within the district aware of the survey and to encourage the viewers to participate.

The report indicates that the majority of people using the system are from Gunnison, with 62 percent of the respondents having a Gunnison mailing address.

The Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte/ Crested Butte South area comprises 25 percent of the viewers.

Other areas with some viewers include Almont (15 households), Pitkin (14 households), Parlin (seven households), Sargents (six households, and Powderhorn (four households).

According to the survey results, most watch TV between one and three hours per day. Sixty-six percent of the respondents said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the available channels, which include some Denver stations, the Discovery channel and a variety of other options including PBS and Grand Junction stations.

Of the survey respondents, the majority, 57 percent, said the Met Rec District should spend its money on television service and not on further recreational purposes. It was noted in the report that the survey was geared to current Met Rec TV users and not the general district population.

Based on actual comments included in the survey, the sometimes spotty or “iffy” quality of reception was sometimes an issue. When there is a problem, most viewers are satisfied with the Met Rec response.

Most people were appreciative of the channel selection (including Chinese and Russian TV channels) and at least one respondent appears to really want to be able to access “Naked and Afraid.”

Antennae issues are common—one comment suggested moving some mountains to improve reception—and people described the system as a great “free” service to the rural community.

If the board were to spend some money on other recreational purposes, it appears the idea of another recreation center in the north end of the valley, along with more trails in the county, top the desires.

Met Rec board president Dave Clayton said there weren’t really any surprises from the survey noting, “The demographics of the viewers match that of the population as a whole. Most of the users are located in the Gunnison to Mt. Crested Butte corridor.”

Clayton said the board conducted the survey to attempt to find out the numbers of users, demographics of the viewers, how the users felt about the system, customer satisfaction and to get contact information that can be used to allow the District to make future contact with users.

“The Board will use the information in aligning programming with desires, get an idea of the number of users for each translator site and that will be used to plan future changes to the system,” he said. “We also wanted to know how viewers felt about the other mission of the District, supporting recreation.”

Clayton said that based on comments included in the survey, the District contacted many of the viewers that expressed problems with reception and the main cause of the problems was primarily the use of indoor antennas. He said that the signal strength of translators is low enough that an external antenna is required for proper reception.

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