Originally Posted by TVOD
I disagree that 16:9 SD in the US would have been a good thing. It was considered about the same time that HD was about to finally emerge, but the feeling was that it would impede the adoption of HD. In hind sight I think that was true.
Yep - I think when many countries were chosing to go 16:9 SD digital OTA they simply couldn't afford the extra costs of HD production, whereas the US TV industry has MUCH larger production budgets at the high end. (The US has typically shot TV content on 35mm film - which very few other countries could afford to do for example)
That said - the countries which took the 16:9 SD route were able to broadcast a lot more services OTA - and have thus (in some cases) had a much more successful roll-out of their digital OTA systems than the US - though this is complicated by the fact that the US has never really had such a high OTA penetration as many other countries.
The downside of the US going HD so early is that it is stuck with pretty outdated video compression and RF modulation specifications though. 19.2Mbs and MPEG2 for ATSC compared with 36Mbs and H264 for DVB-T2 (meaning 1 OK quality HD stream in ATSC whereas 3 good quality streams are now feasible with DVB-T2)
If you always wait for the "next big thing" you'll never launch anything - but equally if you are the first, you aren't always the best.
Nearly all of network prime time has been HD for years. Most major sporting events are HD.
Yep - in terms of production (both in quality and volume) the US has definitely led the way with HD - apart from Japan no other country comes close in volume.
Cable has been growing steady with HD. A recent thread discussed frustrations that we don't have 150 channels yet in HD, although on some providers it's not that far off.
Out of interest - how many of those 150 channels are re-broadcasts of different OTA NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox affiliates that carry the same prime-time programming? Or are these excluded from the list on the basis that you don't get more than a couple of them in any given location?
I think if HD had been delayed with 16:9 SD, the adoption outside the US would have been delayed even more than it has. This includes both the abundance of HD programming available for export as well as development of production and consumer equipment.
Yep - if the US hadn't gone HD the market for HD production equipment (cameras, VTRs, editing etc.) wouldn't have developed and gear wouldn't have come down in price to the level that broadcasters and studios in other countries could afford.
Similarly HDTVs for the consumer.
Also - other countries were able to learn from the US experience and take decisions about their HD roll out based on this.
Ironically much of the latter is not manufactured in the US.
At this point any upgrade or new endeavor should be HD. With the analog cutoff looming in the near future, we are taking a major step away from 4:3. In the US 16:9 is largely associated with HD. I think widescreen SD for production is still adequate as an alternative to HD, but those days should be coming to an end too.
Yep - and there is no real reason for 4:3 subchannels is there?
While HD has made great progress in the US, I will say that a major oversight was not adopting AFD earlier. However that will prove to be a temporary issue as 4:3 displays are phased out. The need for AFD is much greater in systems that use widescreen SD as the same transmission system is used for 4:3. We haven't had that situation which has simplified things, but that could change if SD subchannels decide to go 16:9. So far that hasn't really materialized yet.
Yep - AFDs were a very sensible development - and are incredibly useful.
Bottom line is that in my opinion the US not adopting widescreen SD for transmission propelled the adoption of HD. One benefit to a delay may have been the use of a more advanced codec for OTA, but on the other hand MPEG2 was originally developed to deal with HD transmission. That hasn't prevented providers from using MPEG4, and h.264 will be used for the OMVC OTA subchannels for mobile viewing, which is yet another bandwidth robber but at least it doesn't use much more than about 1 Mbs. That is another story for another thread.
Yep - I think the global broadcast industry benefited from the US going HD - though in some cases those of us going HD later may well benefit more than the US in the longer run in picture quality terms.
Of course those of us with heavy 16:9 stereo SD penetration have a harder sell in persuading people that HD and surround is better (as the picture shape remains the same and only the resolution and audio improves) - and also we have lots of spectrum allocated to SD 16:9 digital OTA stuff... (And those of us that went 16:9 SD when the US went HD also adopted MPEG2 - so have wasteful codecs in widespread use still)