HD locals increasingly likely coming to DirecTV in a big way - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 02:44 AM - Thread Starter
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News Corp. Changes Satellite Plans
Ambition to Use Spaceway
To Offer Broadband Service
Fades Amid Profit Doubts

By ANDY PASZTOR
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
May 28, 2004; Page A3

News Corp., which controls the U.S.'s largest satellite-to-home TV broadcaster, is scrapping plans to use advanced satellites for delivering Internet access across the U.S.

..... News Corp. still will launch at least one Spaceway satellite, but will use it only for TV broadcast rather than high-speed Internet service.

.... So far, News Corp. has committed to launch only one of the two primary Spaceway satellites manufactured by Boeing Co., according to people familiar with the details. And even that satellite is being converted to perform the routine task of beaming down high-definition programming for DirecTV.

.... After months of hinting that Spaceway capacity probably would be shared between HDTV programming and Internet applications, News Corp. has decided that it will use the satellite only to deliver TV channels, officials familiar with the details said.

.... In El Segundo, Calif., a DirecTV spokesman declined to detail the company's plans. "We are planning on using" the Spaceway satellites "in the most productive ways" possible, he said, adding that such goals could include increasing DirecTV's capacity to broadcast high-definition signals to hundreds of specific U.S. markets

There is no difference in HDMI cables. If you can see the picture without visible dropouts or sparklies, the cable is working at 100%. No other cable will display a better version of that picture. You're simply wrong if you think there is a better digital cable than one that is already working. (Oh, and plasma didn't die because of logistics problems, nor does OLED ship in big boxes because it comes from Korea.)
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post #2 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 04:22 AM
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I am not a fan of D* adding locals in HD. I feel it is a misuse of very valuable bandwidth. The bandwidth would be better used adding HD channels that would be available to all subscribers, such as Starz HD, Cinemax HD, TMC HD, FSN HD, etc. These channels would be available to all that are willing to pay for them. Locals would only be available to a small percentage of D*'s HD subscribers. With so many national HD channels not on D* and such limited bandwidth I don't understand adding locals at this time. V* clearly has the better strategy when it comes to HD content. Just thinking about D* adding HD locals makes me embarrassed to be a 3 year D* subscriber.

We all should spend our time getting the FCC to fix the out of market waiver process. I believe that if a local station is either 1) Not broadcasting digitally and passing the networks HD feed or 2) Not broadcasting at full power, any customer in that local's DMA should get an automatic waiver for distant locals. I also believe the reception quality test should be based on receiving the local with a small indoor antenna (e.g. "Rabbit Ears w/ the UHF Hoop"). This is the true least common denominator for receiving OTA signals. The last change I would make to the out of market waiver process is adding a provision that would allow any viewer to receive a waiver for out of market stations if the viewer is willing to pay the local station an annual fee equal to reduction in revenue from advertisers for the loss of a single household. This can be calculated by taking the total annual advertising revenue for the local and dividing it by the total number of households in the local's DMA. I would be surprised if each household was worth more than $50 a year.

I am very fortunate to live in South Florida where I can pickup 7 OTA DTV signals with rabbit ears and small amp. I wanted to pickup all available stations so I put two medium antennas in my attic and I can get all UHF stations out of Miami and all stations out of West Palm Beach. I do realize many are not as fortunate as I am and have other factors such as terrain and man made objects impacting their ability to receive OTA DTV. If the waiver process was fixed to reflect "reality" then everyone would have a viable option.

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post #3 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 04:28 AM
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I am not a fan of D* adding locals in HD. I feel it is a misuse of very valuable bandwidth. The bandwidth would be better used adding HD channels that would be available to all subscribers, such as Starz HD, Cinemax HD, TMC HD, FSN HD, etc.
Spaceway can't effectively be used for that purpose anyway. The Spaceway satellites are spot-beam only. That said, they could be used to deliver your regional sports network in HD.

DirecTV's decision to use one or more Spaceway satellites exclusively for HD (locals) is a major development.
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post #4 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 04:41 AM
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From what has been talked about with the Spaceway satellite, D* will have plenty of bandwidth to deliver HD LIL and all the other HD feeds available. Regardless of provider, I say if you're going to do it, go all out. It looks as though this is D* strategy.

Also, I agree with you on the FCC needing to do something. Personally, it makes no difference if D*, E*, or Voom offered me my locals in HD since only my NBC and CBS affiliates broadcast in HD. Our Fox, ABC, WB, and UPN affiliates don't do HD, and have no plans in the near future to upgrade. I wish the FCC would do something to accommodate viewers like myself.

With that said, I still hope D* goes through with this, because it will provide more HD to the majority, leaving myself in the minority.

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post #5 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 04:56 AM
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Well, I'm a hd Directv sub and to me I think this is necessary for them to compete with cable. Remember when cable used to say that you could only get your locals through them. They don't say that anymore. Now they are starting to say, in a somewhat lower voice that you can only get your local hd stations through them. When Spaceway is up cable will not be able to use that against DTV.

That aside, I could care less b/c I get all 6 of my local hd stations for free via an ota antenna. Some people don't want to bother with an antenna or they have reception issues. For those people, this is welcomed news.

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post #6 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 05:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by AFH
Well, I'm a hd Directv sub and to me I think this is necessary for them to compete with cable. Remember when cable used to say that you could only get your locals through them. They don't say that anymore. Now they are starting to say, in a somewhat lower voice that you can only get your local hd stations through them. When Spaceway is up cable will not be able to use that against DTV.

That aside, I could care less b/c I get all 6 of my local hd stations for free via an ota antenna. Some people don't want to bother with an antenna or they have reception issues. For those people, this is welcomed news.
I agree. Big picture for D* is that it needs to offer locals - HD and non HD - in order to seriously compete against cable. People who really want their locals won't turn to D* if they cannot receive them, especially if they are available via cable. Not everyone wants to put up an antenna and there are many people who couldn't get locals even if they did put one up. You want to free up bandwidth then get rid of those channels that one percent of the viewing audience watches. We know what those are.
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post #7 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 05:36 AM
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I would like to see them work on that plan where using the intelligence of the TiVo they broadcast a national network HD feed for each network and send the TiVo a signal when it's time for local spots and news, and the TiVo automatically switches to the local SD channel.
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post #8 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 05:46 AM
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I think a Tivo system would cost them more money in the long run than just using these new satellites. Advertisers won't settle for the mistakes nor will they allow a system that could have mistakes. Sadly to say that is what it would come down to. I agree that since D* is going against cable they have to offer HD LIL via satellite sooner rather than later. I would also like to maybe see down the line VOD which might be possible using one of those SpaceWay satellites. Since high speed internet is just not going to sell in the short or long run considering that cell phone companies are coming out with higher and higher speed cell networks so with that said D* would be better off charging an extra 6.95/month for all VOD channels besides PPV VOD. I love my Tivo but if they could offer my premium channels VOD offerings there is no way all my Tivos could record that spacewise. Since these sats can send data at very fast rates and they are two way sats they could configure those sats for VOD requests and sending. Maybe they could get rid of all PPV channels and use VOD like cable. This would stop pirate cards from ordering PPV since the VOD would be on a channel but would be able to bill via the two way sat without a phone line. They could also use this satellite for other billing stuff as well such as sporting packages and upgrading of packages. This would get rid of their phone line crap and would prevent piracy since they could contact the box and kick the box out if its not autorized. I don't know if this could be done but I think there are many advantages to this. They would make more money on PPV and Premium channel VOD services than with internet service. They can use these sats for all billing reasons without a phone line and kick out all boxes that aren't on a account. These are all benefits as far as I'm concerned.
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post #9 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 05:51 AM
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So is the Spaceway definitely spot beam, and if so, couldn't they use it for SD LIL's freeing up more "national space" for HD cable channels?

It's funny what a 180 this is from their Q1 conference call where they repeatedly said Spaceway should be looked at primarily as an internet sat that MAY have some other uses. I guess somebody screwed the pooch on their projections.

News Corp. executives had doubted projections of market demand and profitability used to justify the original investment in the Spaceway project, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the company's plans.
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post #10 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 05:53 AM
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It is essential that the providers offer HD locals. After all, it is only a matter of time before a digital local broadcast will be all there is to offer. I do believe that this is a very forward thinking decision by Direct. I subscribe to TWC because they pipe in my local channels in digital format and because their HD offerings are not compressed like Direct's.

If Direct keeps up this particular vision, maybe one day I can disable the cable.......again!

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post #11 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 05:54 AM
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This is huge news for me. If d* offered locals in HD it would allow me to dump Comcast completely. The only reason I have them is for HD locals. I am unable to pick up any OTA HD even with an enormous antennae.
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post #12 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 06:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by ANSEK
I am not a fan of D* adding locals in HD. I feel it is a misuse of very valuable bandwidth.
Nobody likes D* to waste any bandwidth for channels that they can't get or if it would be redundant. LIL's are necessary for the long term growth of D*, and the remaining approx. 60-75 DMA's LIL's that are yet to be announced will be the priority.

All we (those of us with OTA access) can hope for is a gradual increase in the percentage of bandwidth dedicated to "national" HD channels.
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post #13 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 07:06 AM
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There is enough bandwidth on the Spaceway sats to do the HD locals for every single market in the country. This has already been discussed here and at DBSForums last year.

All this means is that they can use CONUS bandwidth saved with 7S along with 8 and 9S to do all the "national" HD channels and put the LIL HD networks on Spaceway. There shouldn't be a problem doing both, not in the least.

Plus, as has been discussed before, if they use the ATSC HD signal, they save a ton of bandwidth and if they get rid of the SD locals and use the digital/HD locals only and downconvert for those without HD, well, that's a lot of bandwidth freed up on the main sats for things like more Cinemax channels or Showtime Beyond and things like that.

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post #14 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 07:07 AM
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Originally posted by CPanther95
So is the Spaceway definitely spot beam, and if so, couldn't they use it for SD LIL's freeing up more "national space" for HD cable channels?

It's funny what a 180 this is from their Q1 conference call where they repeatedly said Spaceway should be looked at primarily as an internet sat that MAY have some other uses. I guess somebody screwed the pooch on their projections.

News Corp. executives had doubted projections of market demand and profitability used to justify the original investment in the Spaceway project, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the company's plans.
Actually, D* did make comments in their last conference call stating that they will convert some of the Spaceway bandwith for use in HDTV programming. The major development here is that they decided to go all out and convert it for 100% HDTV. Probably has something to do with D* making deals with the Baby Bells to offer DSL as well.

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post #15 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 07:25 AM
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If this is true then why does DIrect TV keep showing adds for thier internet service?
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post #16 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 07:27 AM
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This is great news for somebody like me. I live approx. 100 miles from NYC and 50 miles from Albany, NY. My primary DMA for D* purposes is NYC. Therefore it is somewhat difficult to receive the HD Locals, although I do have a large antenna and receive NBC and PBS from Albany - but the signal is not great at all. I know I'll have Fox in addition to CBS in a few months but the ability to receive all of the NYC locals in HD from D* would be great.
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post #17 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 07:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by tec1271
Actually, D* did make comments in their last conference call stating that they will convert some of the Spaceway bandwith for use in HDTV programming.
Those statements were never made in the conference call.
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post #18 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 07:46 AM
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Nooooo..... i want starz hd, cinemax hd, and etc hd. LOL

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post #19 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 07:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by trausch
If this is true then why does DIrect TV keep showing adds for thier internet service?
Because Direcway is still a viable product. The one person I know that has it calls his Direcway 2-way service nothing more than "very expensive dialup."

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post #20 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 07:52 AM
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This should enable D* to do BOTH HD Locals via Spaceway AND Starz, TNT, Cinemax etc via 7S and hopefully allow them to not compress SD as much as well. This is a very good development.

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post #21 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 08:06 AM
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So does anyone have a time frame on this?

I, for one, would be very excited if they started adding locals in HD. I understand the frustrations of those of you that can get all your HD OTA. Thank your lucky stars. However, for those of us that can't - this is a real blessing.
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post #22 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 08:09 AM
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If this comes to fruition, would this require an additional dish, a replaced dish, or work with the current 3-LNB dish. If the former, can the two dishes be combined into the 4 lines I have running into my house?

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post #23 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 08:19 AM
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I'd love to see the whole article and see how much D* actually said about the allocation of the bandwidth - or if it will simply be 100% TV usage and any mention of HD is simply the author's speculation.
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post #24 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 08:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by CPanther95
Those statements were never made in the conference call.
Sorry, was not made in Q1 2004 call, it was in the Q4 2003 call back in February I think. There was actually a thread here that talked about it. They definitely stated they will shift some of the Spaceway resources for HDTV in the future - no timetable was given.

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post #25 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 08:23 AM
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I would assume that it would NOT require any additional dishes or changes. I think they would slot the Spaceway birds into one of the existing orbital slots that they currently have.

Doug
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post #26 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 08:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Paperboy2003
I would assume that it would NOT require any additional dishes or changes. I think they would slot the Spaceway birds into one of the existing orbital slots that they currently have.
Spaceway is a Ku/Ka hybrid, so new LNBs (and probably new dishes) would be a requirement.
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post #27 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 08:32 AM
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In the 1st quarter call, I believe they mentioned "transitioning" to HD locals at some point. Could D* allow current non-HD boxs to down convert the HD locals and totally do away with local analog channels freeing up capacity for national HD channels or would a STB switch out be necessary?
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post #28 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 08:34 AM
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I would be surprised if they can add KA broadcasts in a way that would work with exisiting receivers so I think new receivers may very well be required in addition to the new LNBs and (likely) new dishes.
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post #29 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 08:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Rich Peterson
I would be surprised if they can add KA broadcasts in a way that would work with exisiting receivers so I think new receivers may very well be required in addition to the new LNBs and (likely) new dishes.

ugh!
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post #30 of 232 Old 05-28-2004, 08:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by tec1271
Sorry, was not made in Q1 2004 call, it was in the Q4 2003 call back in February I think. There was actually a thread here that talked about it. They definitely stated they will shift some of the Spaceway resources for HDTV in the future - no timetable was given.
I'll take your word for it. You wonder what actually was known/transpired between Q4, Q1, and today's announcement. By Q1, he went out of his way to squash any speculation about possibly using Spaceway for anything but internet. "There are possibly some ways to get some other uses out of Spaceway, but it is primarily for Internet, and that's what it should be considered"

Now internet is out completely only about a month later. Maybe they are just intentionally being overly discreet about HD to keep the competition in the dark. That's what I'm going to hope anyway :)
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