Why don't networks broadcast more channels OTA? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 79 Old 10-19-2009, 07:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't networks have the ability to broadcast up to 4 channels OTA since the A2D transition? The only examples that I've seen take advantage of this are a couple of networks are broadcasting 24hr local weather channels. I thought that it would be cool if the networks started broadcasting some of their cable networks OTA. Like ABC coul brodcast ESPN and Disney. NBC could broadcast MSNBC and FOX could broadcast Fox Sports. I think that this would be a win-win for everybody. The networks would make more money by the extra ad revenue generated from the expanded viewing audiences and viewers could save money on cable subscriptions. It would really be nice for people like me, because I mainly only subscribe to cable during the football season and if I could get ESPN and Fox Sports OTA, I may not need cable at all. Is there a reason why the networks don't do this already and is it a possibility that we might see something like this in the future?
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post #2 of 79 Old 10-19-2009, 07:02 AM
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Totally against this. Less bits for the primary HD channel = no good.
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post #3 of 79 Old 10-19-2009, 07:07 AM
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post #4 of 79 Old 10-19-2009, 07:10 AM
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post #5 of 79 Old 10-19-2009, 07:11 AM
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post #6 of 79 Old 10-19-2009, 07:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JasonR View Post

Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't networks have the ability to broadcast up to 4 channels OTA since the A2D transition? The only examples that I've seen take advantage of this are a couple of networks are broadcasting 24hr local weather channels. I thought that it would be cool if the networks started broadcasting some of their cable networks OTA. Like ABC coul brodcast ESPN and Disney. NBC could broadcast MSNBC and FOX could broadcast Fox Sports. I think that this would be a win-win for everybody. The networks would make more money by the extra ad revenue generated from the expanded viewing audiences and viewers could save money on cable subscriptions. It would really be nice for people like me, because I mainly only subscribe to cable during the football season and if I could get ESPN and Fox Sports OTA, I may not need cable at all. Is there a reason why the networks don't do this already and is it a possibility that we might see something like this in the future?

Because you are completely ignoring the fact that the network needs most of its bandwidth for a good HD picture.

I have no idea where you got you "up to 4 channels" information from
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post #7 of 79 Old 10-19-2009, 07:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by barth2k View Post

I've had the ability to stick keys in wall sockets since my transition from fetus to toddler, yet I haven't done it. Much.

Makes sense. You also have the ability post intelligent, useful replies and you don't do that much, either.
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post #8 of 79 Old 10-19-2009, 07:27 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Berk32 View Post


I have no idea where you got you "up to 4 channels" information from

I'm not sure where exactly I got that information from, but I know that PBS broadcasts on ch 19 in my market but they have sub-channels on 19-1, 19-2, 19-3, and 19-4. So they are taking advantage of this ability. Just wondering why the other networks don't.
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post #9 of 79 Old 10-19-2009, 07:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by sansri88 View Post

Totally against this. Less bits for the primary HD channel = no good.

This doesn't really bother me. It's like people that complain about CD audio because compression shaved off some of the audio bits. Personally, I can't tell on CD's and doubt that many people would notice a few less bits on their HDTV's, either, but they would benefit from extra channels.
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post #10 of 79 Old 10-19-2009, 07:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Berk32 View Post

Because you are completely ignoring the fact that the network needs most of its bandwidth for a good HD picture.

I have no idea where you got you "up to 4 channels" information from

That's assuming he's talking about HD. There are two non-commercial digital channels in this area that broadcast FIVE 480i streams on each channel, and for SD, they look pretty good.
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post #11 of 79 Old 10-19-2009, 08:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JasonR View Post

I'm not sure where exactly I got that information from, but I know that PBS broadcasts on ch 19 in my market but they have sub-channels on 19-1, 19-2, 19-3, and 19-4. So they are taking advantage of this ability. Just wondering why the other networks don't.

The networks you listed (ESPN, Disney channel, MSNBC and Fox Sports) have a different business model than the OTA networks. These networks rely on subscriber fees in addition to advertising. Now, arguably advertising revenue would go up if these networks were broadcast OTA, but it would probably come at the expense of the main OTA networks' advertising revenue. In other words, there is no financial incentive to do this, and it would instead probably hurt the bottom line.
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post #12 of 79 Old 10-19-2009, 08:45 AM
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Why don't networks broadcast more channels OTA? They don't have more channels to broadcast over the air for free. They can barely produce enough programming to put on one channel.

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post #13 of 79 Old 10-19-2009, 09:30 AM
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If a channel has HD programming, it really shouldn't have more than one SD subchannel, in order to maintain decent picture quality. The PBS stations in my area have 1 HD + 2 SD, and even on a 32" LCD I can see the degradation on all the subchannels. Fortunately, most PBS HD content is fairly static (they don't show football or hockey games ) so for me the result is usually tolerable.

However, in most areas there are stations that aren't doing any HD to begin with. They could easily carry four high-quality SD subchannels apiece. We already have channels like Retro TV, This TV, and Universal Sports, and people are trying to start up channels for other niches. I think the real problem is finding enough advertisers to pay enough money for commercials to keep these channels going.
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post #14 of 79 Old 10-19-2009, 09:31 AM
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Networks don't broadcast anything. FCC-licensed stations do the broadcasting. There are some network-owned stations out there ... but most are not.

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post #15 of 79 Old 10-19-2009, 09:43 AM
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The real issue is that networks such as ESPN, FOX Sports, MSNBC and FOX News are built around the cable industry and because of that, contractually, OTA stations can not air them except in extremely well defined cases on a extremely limited basis, ie, 9/11. They did, the cable industry could legally call breach of contract.

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post #16 of 79 Old 10-19-2009, 12:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JasonR View Post

Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't networks have the ability to broadcast up to 4 channels OTA since the A2D transition? The only examples that I've seen take advantage of this are a couple of networks are broadcasting 24hr local weather channels. I thought that it would be cool if the networks started broadcasting some of their cable networks OTA. Like ABC coul brodcast ESPN and Disney. NBC could broadcast MSNBC and FOX could broadcast Fox Sports. I think that this would be a win-win for everybody. The networks would make more money by the extra ad revenue generated from the expanded viewing audiences and viewers could save money on cable subscriptions. It would really be nice for people like me, because I mainly only subscribe to cable during the football season and if I could get ESPN and Fox Sports OTA, I may not need cable at all. Is there a reason why the networks don't do this already and is it a possibility that we might see something like this in the future?

Broadcast Networks do not broadcast OTA, their local station affiliates (whom they send a distribution feed to) broadcast OTA. In some cases, that local station may be owned by the same entity as the broadcast network. As local stations, even those owned by the same entity, can carry a plethora of options on their subchannels, this would have to be something the Cable Network (which although owned by the same entity, are usually distributed separately) chooses to make available to stations.
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post #17 of 79 Old 10-19-2009, 02:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JasonR View Post

Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't networks have the ability to broadcast up to 4 channels OTA since the A2D transition? The only examples that I've seen take advantage of this are a couple of networks are broadcasting 24hr local weather channels. I thought that it would be cool if the networks started broadcasting some of their cable networks OTA. Like ABC coul brodcast ESPN and Disney. NBC could broadcast MSNBC and FOX could broadcast Fox Sports. I think that this would be a win-win for everybody. The networks would make more money by the extra ad revenue generated from the expanded viewing audiences and viewers could save money on cable subscriptions. It would really be nice for people like me, because I mainly only subscribe to cable during the football season and if I could get ESPN and Fox Sports OTA, I may not need cable at all. Is there a reason why the networks don't do this already and is it a possibility that we might see something like this in the future?

IF you had a product, like Espn, and could sell it to Cable Co's. Sat Co's etc...why in the Wide Wide World of Sports would you give it away for free OTA?

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post #18 of 79 Old 10-19-2009, 02:44 PM
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You may not notice the difference in picture quality of HD stations dropping their bitrate (for subchannels) but many of us do. In fact you should really get your eyes examined if you can't. My PBS station used to have zero sub channels, back in the early days of HD (early for my market) and the quality was just stunning, then they added PBS-SD digital, then V-ME and it was garbage. Now they've dropped the PBS-SD subchannel and its OK in those rare cases when they actually have HD content.

Here's a screen from KOB-HD a few weeks ago of Sunday Night Football. They have one SD sub channel. Please let me know if you think its acceptable quality or not.



Note: thats a lossless screen cap from a PCI ATSC tuner in my computer, not a digital picture of my TV. Click twice for fullscreen.
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post #19 of 79 Old 10-19-2009, 09:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McDonoughDawg View Post

IF you had a product, like Espn, and could sell it to Cable Co's. Sat Co's etc...why in the Wide Wide World of Sports would you give it away for free OTA?

Especially if you could get the cableco's etc. to fork over $3.50 or whatever for every basic-cable subscriber regardless of the fact that only 1/3 of them actually watch the channel?
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post #20 of 79 Old 10-19-2009, 09:56 PM
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The station owners are expanding and more Networks are being created. ThisTV, RetroTV, TuffTV etc...

Its likely that cable shows that cant command the prices that other do, will migrate somewhat to OTA. It is a win win situation for the station owners and those Networks. Or those networks could create new entities to air OTA...this gets around contractual agreements as well.

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post #21 of 79 Old 10-20-2009, 07:22 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skylab View Post

The networks you listed (ESPN, Disney channel, MSNBC and Fox Sports) have a different business model than the OTA networks. These networks rely on subscriber fees in addition to advertising. Now, arguably advertising revenue would go up if these networks were broadcast OTA, but it would probably come at the expense of the main OTA networks' advertising revenue. In other words, there is no financial incentive to do this, and it would instead probably hurt the bottom line.

Actually since ABC and ESPN are both owned by Disney not sure how ABC gets hurt since it's all the same money. As far as the local affiliate they would have ad space on the ESPN subchannel for extra revenue. As far as losing viewers two points. A) If I'm watching ESPN I'm probably not interested in Dancing with the Stars anyways. B) My local ABC station is 7.1 so say I'm watching ESPN on 7.2 then I'm more likely to watch 7.1 when I'm done watching ESPN than I am any other channel. So viewership is more likely to go up not down.

Of course the people running the big media companies are behind the times and are pretty dumb. I'd say that's been fairly obvious. let do some math

Biggest suppliers of TV viewing

#1 Comcast
#2 DirecTv
#3 OTA
#4 Time Warner

More people watch TV via OTA than watch TV via Cox, Charter, Cablevision and Brighthouse COMBINED. And they are the #4, #5, #6, and #7 largest cable companies.
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post #22 of 79 Old 10-20-2009, 07:24 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McDonoughDawg View Post

IF you had a product, like Espn, and could sell it to Cable Co's. Sat Co's etc...why in the Wide Wide World of Sports would you give it away for free OTA?

How much more can one charge for ads by upping viewership by 20%?
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Originally Posted by lobosrul View Post

You may not notice the difference in picture quality of HD stations dropping their bitrate (for subchannels) but many of us do. In fact you should really get your eyes examined if you can't.

And perhaps you need to realize around 60% of people still watch TV via a SDTV thus no they can't tell the difference in the HD picture. In fact for OTA households that number is probably closer to 70% or more.

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Originally Posted by Berk32 View Post

Because you are completely ignoring the fact that the network needs most of its bandwidth for a good HD picture.

I have no idea where you got you "up to 4 channels" information from

Actually a station could have 8 SD channels. Quality would suck but they could do it.

Also for those not keeping up they have approved Mpeg-4 compression standards for ATSC. A station could DOUBLE it's current bandwidth essentially. So a station could easily have TWO HD channels with great quality or 1 HD channel and several SD subchannels all of high bitrates.
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post #24 of 79 Old 10-21-2009, 03:02 AM
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JasonR:

I fell the same way you do. The only thing I want on cable is college football on ESPN. But my AT&T internet is compatible with ESPN360.com and that has all the college football games that the ESPN networks show. They aren't in HD but they are free. I watch football OTA in HD on my local channels and when a game comes on ESPN360 I watch it on my computer. But most of my football watching is OTA in HD all weekend. I canceled my cable subscription a year ago and have saved over $1,000 by doing this.

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post #25 of 79 Old 10-21-2009, 08:33 AM
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Economics is a big factor. Our area recently lost RTN because of lack of advertising revenue. Nielson ratings were part of the equation - they have been responsible for the demise of many shows over the years. Now we've got Telemundo instead because there were advertisers willing to fork over the cash..
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post #26 of 79 Old 10-21-2009, 09:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BCF68 View Post

How much more can one charge for ads by upping viewership by 20%?

And how much money would they lose in reduced per-subscriber fees from cable and sat companies, which would surely demand those reductions if people could get the channel for free OTA?
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post #27 of 79 Old 10-21-2009, 11:21 AM
 
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Originally Posted by jtbell View Post

And how much money would they lose in reduced per-subscriber fees from cable and sat companies, which would surely demand those reductions if people could get the channel for free OTA?

You're assuming some huge wave of people canceling cable or satellite because ESPN would then be on OTA. Seriously how many people would do that? Think of this. How come WGN is still OTA in Chicago? It's cable only everywhere else. Using your logic it would make more financial sense to go 100% cable, especially in an area the size of Chicago. Except that people aren't cancelling cable because ONE station( WGN ) is available OTA. Trust me if it was better financially for WGN to be all cable in Chicago they would have done it YEARS ago. There is a REASON why they are still OTA.
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post #28 of 79 Old 10-21-2009, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by BCF68 View Post

And perhaps you need to realize around 60% of people still watch TV via a SDTV thus no they can't tell the difference in the HD picture. In fact for OTA households that number is probably closer to 70% or more.

So we should all have to suffer because some people cling to old technology? More and more people are moving to HDTV, slowly, then they too will notice a difference in quality.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BCF68 View Post

Actually a station could have 8 SD channels. Quality would suck but they could do it.

I don't know where you're getting that number from. ATSC actually supports 999 sub channels. A broadcaster could have a dozen 1080i sub channels if they wanted to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BCF68 View Post

Also for those not keeping up they have approved Mpeg-4 compression standards for ATSC. A station could DOUBLE it's current bandwidth essentially. So a station could easily have TWO HD channels with great quality or 1 HD channel and several SD subchannels all of high bitrates.


And how many TV's have tuners that support MPEG-4? How many OTA set top boxes do?

And believe me its possible for MPEG-4 channels to look like garbage, ask any Dish Network subscriber.

Look I would love to be able to drop the middle man (Dish Network in my case) for a system where there are a reasonable number of channels thru the air. But its just not going to happen anytime soon. Theres a reason USDTV failed.
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post #29 of 79 Old 10-22-2009, 06:49 AM
 
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Originally Posted by lobosrul View Post

So we should all have to suffer because some people cling to old technology?

No I didn't say that. I'm EXPLAINING as to why many people don't notice the difference in HD quality. A 17 Mbps HD broadcast and a 12 Mbps broadcast is going to look the same on a old 480i SDTV. stations know the demographics of thier viewers and if they see most viewers are using SDTV and if adding a subchanel or 2 will add revenue then they'll take the money and run. Now once you get a majority of viewers watching via HDTV and complaining about picture quality will you might see things change.

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More and more people are moving to HDTV, slowly, then they too will notice a difference in quality

yes and in 5-8 years most will notice. Just not now.

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I don't know where you're getting that number from. ATSC actually supports 999 sub channels. A broadcaster could have a dozen 1080i sub channels if they wanted to.

Sure but a broadcaster only has 19 Mbps to spread around. A dozen 1080i subchannels would be about 1.5 Mbps for each channel. Now 480i looks crappy at 1.5 Mbps I can't imagine what 1080i would look like at that bitrate. You complain that your HD picture already looks crappy and that crappy signal is at least 10 Mbps so why you claim a station could have a dozen 1080i subchannels is weird. Below 12 Mbps a 1080i broadcast really starts to suffer. If you have a larger( 50" + ) HDTV you'll notice it at even at 14 Mbps. Realistically a broadcaster could have one 720p and one 480i/480p subchannel and both be very good quality.

Quote:


And how many TV's have tuners that support MPEG-4? How many OTA set top boxes do?

right now, none. Once these tuners get into TVs and those TVs get bought in massive numbers this technology can really be useful. Of course that's 10-12year out at least.

Quote:


And believe me its possible for MPEG-4 channels to look like garbage, ask any Dish Network subscriber.

Dish Network. Nuff said.

Quote:


Look I would love to be able to drop the middle man (Dish Network in my case) for a system where there are a reasonable number of channels thru the air. But its just not going to happen anytime soon.

I never said it would happen overnight
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post #30 of 79 Old 10-22-2009, 04:28 PM
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We are not going to see MPEG4 used over the air for many decades. The people of this country would revolt if the government were to say anything about another non backward compatible total overhaul of our tv broadcast standard now or anytime within he next 30 years or so!

How can we say "the digital transition is complete" when thousands of low power stations are still broadcasting in analog?
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