etcarey double posted his comments to this thread, so I might as well double post my response...
|For the past year, I've had HDNet as part of my $35.00/month package. Now, I will be paying $131.88 more during the next year to keep what I already have (HDNet), add and HD version of a channel I already have (ESPN-HD adds PQ but no content), 4 hours of Discovery a day and HDNet Movies.
You got what was essentially a prolonged "free preview." DirecTV didn't have to pay extra for Hdnet so neither did you. DirecTV took the position that Total Choice subscribers were getting Hdnet for free; you'll notice it was never listed under the channel lineup for Total Choice.
Hdnet does not exist as a public service. Mark Cuban runs his business to make a profit [in the future]. That means at some point, he had to begin charging DirecTV for Hdnet carriage. That time has come. And that means you've got to pay for those channels, just as cable subscribers have been, and Dish Network subscribers will be, paying for Hdnet.
|I don't know if paying for HD sets the right precedent. We should get HD because that's what TV is now (or is becoming).
That's not what HDTV is now. HDTV is not a cost of doing business, and won't be for a long, long time. The only reason
we have any HDTV cable channels at all is because some executives thought they might be able to make some money on it.
HDTV content is limited in availability and costly to produce, particularly so for live events. There is no reason whatsoever for cable channels to launch free HDTV services right now; unlike broadcasters, they are not facing a digital transition; they have no need to convert viewers. There is no extra advertising revenue to be made from HDTV on cable now, or anytime soon, as ESPN has said.If you want to wait five or ten years
, then maybe by then HDTV will be a "cost of doing business," and you'll get channels at little or no extra cpst. But until that time, the only HDTV cable channels we will get will be those that charge a fee. They will be offered as premium services, not as replacement channels.
In the case of ESPN, they are spending tens of millions of dollars to upgrade their infrastructure for HDTV, and spending a premium each week to produce sports in high-definition. They could have waited five or seven years and performed these infrastructure upgrades at significantly less cost; in seven years, the cost of producing HDTV events should also be significantly less. But right now, you are not going to get something for nothing. If ESPN (and DirecTV) has to pay for it, so will you.
If other content providers decide not to do HDTV until it can be offered free, then it will be a long, long time before we have additional non-premium HDTV cable channels.
|right precedent. We should get HD because that's what TV is now (or is becoming). I think they do it right with HBO and Showtime -- if you buy them you also get the HD with no added charge. We get no added content with HBO-HD. What would we be paying for??
I hope you can see the difference between HBO's addition of a HDTV channel as part of its $6.00 to $6.50 package (which costs you $12/mo), and a $0.20 channel like Discovery offering HDTV at no extra cost. When you charge $6.00 a month, it is a lot easier to figure HDTV into your package than it is when you practically give away your channel for free.
Most channels see very little of that $30+ that you pay to DirecTV every month. Some see none of it. They make a living with their advertising revenue. But there is no advertising revenue for HDTV channels, and won't be until there are millions of viewers, so the money has to come from somewhere else.
|Imagine if (back when) the cable companies had decided that they were going to charge extra for color broadcasts or to put them on a separate tier.
When we made the transition to color, cable was non-existent. You did not pay more for over-the-air broadcast channels in color, nor do you pay more for broadcast channels in HDTV now.