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post #1 of 50 Old 03-18-2012, 10:22 PM - Thread Starter
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I think everyone has been there.....cable/satellite bills are $125+/ month, but you dont feel like you watched your money's worth. There are lots of options out there (Hulu+, Netflix, Amazon Prime...) and with this project I want to be able to reduce my bill significantly (~$30/month)

My setup
Currently I pay about $1500/ year for my dish network.
5 HD tvs (non are internet ready)
Cat5&Coax near every tv, all cables lead to equipment closet

My Channel Needs
1) Big Network Prime Time Shows (Solved)
- 30 Rock, Big Bang Theory, Community, Family Guy, HIMYM, House, Modern Family, Parks and Recreation

2) FX (partially Solved, still need help)
- Some of my favorite shows are on FX such as Louie, The League and Its Always Sunny In Philadelphia
...they post shows on their website but not in any type of order

3) Syndicated/Reruns/random surfing (Solved)
- When people gather we watch alot of Friends, Fresh Prince or Seinfeld Reruns
....this isnt an issue because I have the box sets of all of these. I have ripped them all onto my NAS System connected to my home network

4) News (Need Help)
- Most of my news watching is stock market related news during the daytime and a little local news before bed

5) Sports/Sports/Sports (partially Solved, still need help)
- This is where the biggest problem arises, I watch alot of basketball and I dont mind getting NBA League Pass (~$150/yr) but from what I have read there are lots of blackouts (all local games and nationally televised games(ABC/TNT/ESPN)). Is there any way I could get the international version in the US? From what I have read the international version is all HD and no blackouts.

6) Some kind of DVR feature?
Planned Solution
  • I will get a Roku for each tv (all Roku 2s ~$400)
    -this will solve problem 3) as I will be able to stream from my computer and surf random internet videos
  • I will get Hulu+ (~$100/yr)
    -this will solve problem 1) as I will be able to stream all the prime time shows through the Roku
  • I will get NBA League pass and try to mask my IP so I could get my local team games, This will stream through the Roku as well
    -this will hopefully solve problem 5)
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post #2 of 50 Old 03-18-2012, 11:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by room7seven View Post

4) News (Need Help)
- Most of my news watching is stock market related news during the daytime and a little local news before bed

Roku has a CNBC channel with real time stock tickers. Local news, if there isn't a net feed, I'd honestly throw up an antenna on the TV you usually watch before bed and just pick up a local.

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I will get NBA League pass and try to mask my IP so I could get my local team games,

Good luck. From what I understand NBA LP is pretty good at sniffing out proxies and shutting them out. Be prepared to use several.

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post #3 of 50 Old 03-19-2012, 07:57 AM
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If your already have an internet/phone package from a cableco, you probably could add a basic tv package to it (not the lifeline type of package) for around $30 - $40. It would be sd, but you'll still be able to get the ota channels in hd and use Netflix/Hulu+ as your "dvr". If you want to pay the upfront costs, you could also get a Tivo w/cable card. You can still stream Netflix/Hulu+/Amazon with the Tivo and record both ota and cable programing with it (or just ota only if you don't want any pay-tv service).

You could then sub to the NBA package and watch the blackout games on the local RSN.

Yes, more money than you want to spend, but less than what you're paying now. But it is something to think about.
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post #4 of 50 Old 03-19-2012, 11:34 AM
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The switch is going to be ruff for a while, but if you stick in there and give it a good try, I think you might like saving all that money per month. I never had a cable package, except when I was a child living at home. So, I do not know what it is like having all 700 channels from Direct TV or Dish. Streaming came easy for me, but some people have a hard time adjusting to not having 700+ channels to choose from at the press of a button. I think it boils down to habit. People do not like change. Most people like to stay in a rutt and never evolve. Good luck.

The Roku also has private channels you can add to it. All you have to do is get the private channel number from the net and it will add that channel on your device. There are many web sites that have lists of private channels. You will have to do some searching.

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post #5 of 50 Old 03-19-2012, 11:57 AM
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You are definitely right that for most people it just boils down to habit. I found myself scrolling through a sea of garbage programming finding something remotely watchable and then not watching it as it ran in the background while I surfed the web or did something else. I can do that with free TV and use Netflix, podcasts, and my local media when I want to watch something that appeals to me for a lot less than what I'm currently paying. I've been doing a test run of just streaming media and local channels and honestly I don't think I'll miss DirecTV much. Not having NFL Network is going to be pretty hard but I can find all that info online via podcasts, websites, and various apps. I am going to miss Deion, Rich Eisen, and the rest of the crew.

Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand.
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post #6 of 50 Old 03-19-2012, 03:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe 6 Pack View Post

I've been doing a test run of just streaming media and local channels and honestly I don't think I'll miss DirecTV much.

I have cut the cord twice. Once for roughly a year, currently a year and a half and counting. In my experience I found Netflix unbelievable in the beginning as I would watch TV series I never caught for one reason or another. After a while the content begins to dry up. Not that you can't find content to watch rather none of it is all that appealing. I have a TiVo along with OTA. The TiVo was $59 and TiVo runs $10 a month for its service. I should have purchased Lifetime like I have in the past but that's another story. I only get the major networks OTA which is fine by me and with my viewing habits the only time I'll run dry is during extended repeat periods.

Without the DVR I would have to have various streaming and or pay-TV options as I never watch TV just to watch. There has to be something I enjoy watching and with such a limited line-up I would hardly watch at all if I had to view content live. Plus, I haven't watched commercials in over a decade.

As an example I often view before primetime so I'll watch The Late Late Show (hoping Sid is on ) or catch various PBS content (This Old House) or others I've DVRed for a rainy day. Moral of my story OTA is so limited it's next to worthless without a DVR... at least once you have become addicted.
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post #7 of 50 Old 03-19-2012, 04:09 PM
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What type of quality can you get streaming the sports? I subscribe to Center Ice and MLB. I only watch one team on each, the Sharks and the Giants. Going to streaming could be a significant savings if the quality is good enough. I watch these games on a 106" screen.

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post #8 of 50 Old 03-19-2012, 04:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeBlow74 View Post

The Roku also has private channels you can add to it. All you have to do is get the private channel number from the net and it will add that channel on your device. There are many web sites that have lists of private channels. You will have to do some searching.

Two good, pretty well kept up-to-date ones are:

http://www.streamfree.tv/apps/, and
http://www.catastrophegirlsrokuchanneldata.blogspot.com
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post #9 of 50 Old 03-20-2012, 05:35 PM
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Im glad someone is doing it. Personally it seems like too much trouble for sub par quality, extra gear, and the multiple sources it would take to only partially replace what I get with cable. I have yet to find one simple solution to replace cable. Maybe if more people jump ship the options will get better or cable will....
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post #10 of 50 Old 03-20-2012, 05:57 PM
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It all comes down to what you want. If you're into network shows and one hour dramas, Hulu and Netflix can usually supply it. Sports and shows on things like A&E/History/TruTV are tougher to find a net feed.

There is no magic bullet, but then that's why cable is so expensive.

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post #11 of 50 Old 03-20-2012, 09:45 PM
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Unless Hulu + has improved in the past year, see other thread - I don't think so- I can't see how hulu+ will help with network shows. When I tried it last year, none of the local content was in HD, a deal killer for me, since they did not ave the rights. So try before you cut.

Better solution, and perhaps a bit cheaper-- just pop a few tuner cards into your computer and use OTA if it's available. Lots of dvr type programs out there for the computer, just set it to record anything you might want to watch and it will be available for streaming to any of the TVs, but you might need Playon to make it work with the Roku boxes.
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post #12 of 50 Old 03-22-2012, 12:15 PM
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This statement hits the nail directly on the head. The streaming market is barely a few years old. There is no magic bullet yet. Most people are satisfied with Netflix/Hulu and a bit of PPV along with their cable, but everyone likes the convenience of streaming. That is indisputable. The problem with content will gradually resolve itself as more and more people demand streaming options.

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Originally Posted by Rubicon_Joey View Post

Im glad someone is doing it. Personally it seems like too much trouble for sub par quality, extra gear, and the multiple sources it would take to only partially replace what I get with cable. I have yet to find one simple solution to replace cable. Maybe if more people jump ship the options will get better or cable will....

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post #13 of 50 Old 03-22-2012, 12:47 PM
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Yeah, it's either use streaming to supplement your viewing, or adjust your viewing to what's available.

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post #14 of 50 Old 03-22-2012, 12:58 PM
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Just saw this link on Hacking Netflix:

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2401827,00.asp

The article states that the CEO of Roku thinks al-a-carte cable will be coming sometime this year. It's still rumors only but the article mentions buying channels without the need for a cable box, which means through a Roku or similar device. It will be interesting to see what happens with that.
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post #15 of 50 Old 03-22-2012, 02:36 PM
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A la carte would be nice, but it's hard to get past the bundling aspect of cable. He even said as much.

Quote:


But Wood said that he didn't see a so-called a la carte version of ESPN, where customers could pay $9.99 or another fee per month for just access to ESPN content, coming any time soon.

"Bundling is intrinsic to the business, and I don't see it changing any time soon," Wood said. But, he said, the bundles may "fray," with content and service providers experimenting over the next few years.

Right now cable customers pay something like $4 for ESPN as part of their cable bill, whether they watch the channel or not. If, say, 25% kept subscribing to a la carte ESPN, that would mean the channel would have to go to $16 per customer to maintain that revenue. And with that hefty billion dollar bill to the NFL alone every year, not to mention other sports, I don't see ESPN tolerating any revenue cut.

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post #16 of 50 Old 03-22-2012, 07:39 PM
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I don't know when ESPN's contracts with the cable companies come up for renewal, but given how many people around here state they would like to drop cable but can't because of sports, I would expect ESPN to charge at least $20 mo. for streaming and have a LOT of people gladly pay it just to get out from under cable bungling

There are a lot of cable channels that I would be interested in other than ESPN. I think the writing is on the wall when the CEO of a major player in streaming says something like he did.
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post #17 of 50 Old 03-22-2012, 10:15 PM
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It would be an interesting bargaining chip. "We're at $4 per subscriber now. We want $5 or we go streaming only."

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post #18 of 50 Old 03-23-2012, 12:00 PM
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And I don't watch ANY sports so why do I have to subsidize it! Somewhere on this forums someone broke down what the cable companies actually pay a month for those cable channels and some were WAY under a dollar. If you've got money coming out of your ears then maybe you don't care what your monthly cable bill is. At that I recall some Bill Gates story where he complained about the price of something and then said he didn't want to pay that much "on principle."

I only watch a few channels on "Extended Basic" cable. Those channels are AMC, Syfy, FX and some USA. Occasionally a few others but those shows could wait until available streaming. During most of December to mid-January I barely watched ANY cable because they weren't even offering anything new on those channels. I felt like I deserved a rebate for that month.

I think the writing is on the wall and if providers want to stay in the game the old "nobody cares how much they are paying" is no longer working. Either ala carte or genre packages will work. The latter used to exist.
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post #19 of 50 Old 03-23-2012, 12:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Conrad View Post

And I don't watch ANY sports so why do I have to subsidize it! Somewhere on this forums someone broke down what the cable companies actually pay a month for those cable channels and some were WAY under a dollar.

The reason why most are under a dollar is because they're bundled together. A la carte pricing would drive them pretty far up. Don't get me wrong, I'd love a la carte as much as the next guy, but it's more complex than simply adopting the model. (I guarantee they won't maintain the $1 or less price they have now.)

From the NY Times:

Quote:
The reason is that unmoored from the cable bundle, individual networks would have to charge vastly more money per subscriber. Under the current system, in which cable companies like Comcast pay the networks for carriage — and then pass on the cost to their customers — networks get to charge on the basis of everyone who subscribes to cable television, whether they watch the network or not. The system has the effect of generating more money than a network “deserves” based purely on viewership. Networks also get to charge more for advertising than they would if they were not part of the bundle.

Take, for instance, ESPN, which charges the highest amount of any cable network: $3 per subscriber per month. (I’m borrowing this example from a recent research note by Craig Moffett, the Sanford C. Bernstein cable analyst.) Suppose in an Ã* la carte world, 25 percent of the nation’s cable subscribers take ESPN. If that were the case, the network would have to charge each subscriber not $3, but $12 a month to keep its revenue the same. (And don’t forget: with its $1.1 billion annual bill to the National Football League alone, ESPN is hardly in a position to tolerate declining revenues.)

And that’s one of the most popular channels on cable. What percentage of cable subscribers would take Discovery, or the Food Network, or Oxygen, or Hallmark — or the many, many more obscure networks that you can now find up and down your cable box? Five percent? Ten percent? According to Mr. Moffett’s analysis, if every African- American family in the country subscribed to the Black Entertainment Network, it would still have to raise its fees by 588 percent. He adds, “If just half opted in — still a wildly optimistic scenario — the price would rise by 1,200 percent.”

And that’s just the effect on fees. Networks would have to charge less for advertising because they would lose the casual viewer — a k a the channel flipper. Marketing budgets, on the other hand, would skyrocket, because the channels would have to pay huge sums to persuade people to subscribe. “Identifying everybody who likes the Food Network and getting them to pay for it is hard to do,” says Christopher Yoo, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania who has studied cable bundling. One of the nice things about the current system is that once a station gets on extended basic, it can be discovered by viewers — and that wouldn’t happen in an Ã* la carte world.

Indeed, it is quite likely that many of the smaller channels would simply vanish because they wouldn’t have enough subscribers — or couldn’t charge enough to stay in business with the subscribers they did have. It is undoubtedly true, as Mr. Kemp wrote to me, that he never watches most of the cable channels that come into his house. That’s true for most people. But there are also probably one or two small networks he does watch from time to time.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/24/bu...gewanted=print

You have to be careful in an a la carte world, as some channels would disappear and others would probably go up in price. If you wanted just one or two channels, you'd probably make out okay, but if you wanted more, it'd probably cost what cable now costs or more. It will be very interesting to see how this all shakes out.

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post #20 of 50 Old 03-24-2012, 07:36 PM
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I know this is going to sound crazy, but if you're looking to save money by downsizing the cost of your TV bill... well... just give up some of the stuff you watch.

Seriously, after two or three months, you'll find better things to do with that time and you won't miss the content.

Anyway, after a brief look, most of the stuff you still have outstanding tend to be solved by an antenna and tuning local channels.

-Suntan
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post #21 of 50 Old 03-25-2012, 11:53 AM
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It's easy to give up stuff if you are finding movies and some TV series streaming that are fulfilling. If the effect of watching Netflix is for others as it is for me they may be getting weaned from episodic TV in return for movies that are usually more compelling than a formula TV series and watered down for American audiences.

After about 6 months to a year I stopped watching a lot of broadcast TV series.
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post #22 of 50 Old 03-26-2012, 08:55 AM
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For the OP:
Note: There are several links included in this post.

IMO, a great source of quality programing is missing from your list, that source is PBS. They try to cover everything so you will have to pick and chose what appeals to you. PBS just finished Downton Abbey, finished/running some of the Charles Dickens stories (Little Dorrit), these are from the Masterpiece series. Other great series includes Nova (mostly science), Nature, Soundstage, Secrets of the Dead, American Experience, Austin City Limits, American Masters and Frontline. There could be others that appeal to you like This Old House. Most of this programing is available in HD and Dolby Surround or Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. It is available via your local PBS station or from AMC 21 satellite (see below). If you are interested send a PM and I will tell you how to add the PBS East schedule to Titan TV program guide.

Had DirecTV from 1994 to 2004, Dish Network from 2004 to 2006.

My viewing is from DVD and Blu-ray library, Blockbuster By-Mail, Amazon Prime (very limited use), D-VHS, OTA** and FTA satellite*. Have several TB of HD stored on hard drives. My monthly cost is 16.99 for Blockbuster By-Mail. Do not count Amazon Prime because it was obtained mainly because of shipping. Donations to PBS is welcomed.
____________________________________________________________ _______________________
*For programming available via C-Band the equipment cost can be substantial because of the size of the dish needed (9-12 feet). For programming available via Ku band the equipment cost can be much less because a 1 meter (39") dish will suffice in most locations.

The cost of FTA will be determined by your technical skills. If you can do the work yourself then the investment for a single satellite Ku band install can be several hundred dollars, a for hire C-Band install can be several thousand dollars.

The following are links: LyngSat which shows the satellites with FTA programming. Forums: Satellite Forums and Satellite Guys. Dealers: DVB Resource, Summit Source, Sadoun, Future Vision Satellite. More info: TSReader, TSReader Hardware List.

My interest is in HD so that pretty much limits me to PBS on AMC-21 satellite. Click the Red and Green in my signature line for more info.

**I have three MDP-130 ATSC/QAM tuner cards. The better half likes several series that airs on CBS network. They are recorded on the office PC, edited with VideoReDo to a Synology DS212j NAS drive and played back in the home theater via the HTPC.
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post #23 of 50 Old 03-26-2012, 09:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suntan View Post

I know this is going to sound crazy, but if you're looking to save money by downsizing the cost of your TV bill... well... just give up some of the stuff you watch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Conrad View Post

It's easy to give up stuff if you are finding movies and some TV series streaming that are fulfilling. If the effect of watching Netflix is for others as it is for me they may be getting weaned from episodic TV in return for movies that are usually more compelling than a formula TV series and watered down for American audiences.

After about 6 months to a year I stopped watching a lot of broadcast TV series.

I am weaning myself off of TV as well. I am down to just a couple things I am watching (Once Fringe is over, I can probably drop everything else I watch). However, getting my wife and kid weaned off of it is proving a bit more difficult.

I would rather just watch a TV series on Netflix back-to-back (and also better PQ than FiOS provides, and without the on-screen graphics and snipes/pop-ups or commercials), or wait and get the season on disc.

Plus, the kind of TV I like tends to be the episodic kind that gets canceled in favor of another America's Next Top Dancing and Singing Cupcake Chef Challenge.

I also have gravitated to watching more movies than TV.
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post #24 of 50 Old 03-26-2012, 09:32 AM
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For me it is simple. iMac, AirParrot, ATV3 and stream2watch.
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post #25 of 50 Old 03-26-2012, 11:49 AM
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In many cases waiting to watch a series streaming on Netflix or elsewhere may sometime avoid the macroblocking from your MPEG-TS using three packing cable company. I hate that "gritty look" and it is almost absent from most streaming providers because either they are using MP4 or VC-1 where there are tricks for encoding a pan.
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post #26 of 50 Old 03-26-2012, 03:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Conrad View Post

In many cases waiting to watch a series streaming on Netflix or elsewhere may sometime avoid the macroblocking from your MPEG-TS using three packing cable company. I hate that "gritty look" and it is almost absent from most streaming providers because either they are using MP4 or VC-1 where there are tricks for encoding a pan.

The satellite providers are using H.264 for their programing and guess what, in many cases it looks like pooh. Any data reduction scheme will have artifacts if it is bit starved. I think most folks around here (AVS in general, certainly not this forum) agree that Vudu has good quality (under good conditions) but it goes downhill from there.
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post #27 of 50 Old 03-26-2012, 04:59 PM
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For years the best HD (outside of blu ray and HDDVD) was OTA HD. However, that is going down quickly as more and more stations are adding sub channels and thus reducing the bit rate on their HD signal. When HDTV first came out, the HD material, although limited, looked a lot better than it does today. And after the FCC bullies the stations to sell even more bandwidth, the quality will only get worse, and eventually will only be available via cable, satellite or streaming.
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post #28 of 50 Old 03-27-2012, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by wxman View Post

For years the best HD (outside of blu ray and HDDVD) was OTA HD. However, that is going down quickly

I would have to agree with this. Some of the first couple of seasons of "Lost" broadcast OTA were amazing. Shows these days are quality challeneged.

Don't even get me started on how the early broadcasts of "Nature" on PBS compare to broadcasts today now that most affiliate PBS stations have about umpteen subchannels piled on for local coverage of unimportant things.

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post #29 of 50 Old 03-27-2012, 04:05 PM
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I would have to agree with this. Some of the first couple of seasons of "Lost" broadcast OTA were amazing. Shows these days are quality challeneged.

At my former address the local CBS averaged about 9 mbps for their HD channel and it showed. Here the local CBS (WSPA) averages 14.5 to 15.0 mbps and it does look much better.

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Don't even get me started on how the early broadcasts of "Nature" on PBS compare to broadcasts today now that most affiliate PBS stations have about umpteen subchannels piled on for local coverage of unimportant things.

Can you install a 1 meter dish at your location? If so, see my post above.
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post #30 of 50 Old 03-28-2012, 10:44 AM
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Can you install a 1 meter dish at your location? If so, see my post above.

Huh?

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