Originally Posted by DrDon
Honestly, it's going to depend on a lot of factors: Subchannels, encoder age and display to name a few. And that's going to vary person to person, city to city.
Subchannels and local encoders do not affect the PQ of Fox network if the station is using the splicer as intended, which nearly all Fox affiliates do. A given network feed will look the same in any market aside from reception issues and downstream processing by cable and satellite providers.
I tend to agree with the source video as being much of the issue. Quite often it has heavy coarse detail enhancement. The studio show looks like it's still using upconverted SD cameras unlike the competition.
Another issue is that the network distribution is likely getting stressed with the number of games being sent. Stat muxing can only do so much, but can't do much when all the feeds require higher bandwidths at the same time.
Of course there is the 1080i vs. 720p debate, but I've seen good results in both formats. From a production standpoint I think 1080i looks better, but is more susceptible to degradation from downstream encoding and processing.