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Why don't networks broadcast more channels OTA? - Page 3

post #61 of 79
If Sezmi works out, though, it just demonstrates to the whole industry that there is enough interest in an even more cost-reduced, lower quality product. Folks who care about PQ have to work harder to get other Americans to agree with them, otherwise the Wal-mart effect will spread even further.
post #62 of 79
"I saw a brief demonstration of Sezmi last week and was impressed by the picture quality and the user interface."

"The company wouldn't say how much HD it would deliver, just that "the most popular content on the most popular networks will be in HD as available.""

I didn't see any poor PQ refs.
post #63 of 79
I think the PP made that judgment based on the specs -- and I think we can take the quotes you provided as being made in the context of those specs, i.e., "The picture quality is good, given the bandwidth limitations that they're faced with..."
post #64 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by bicker1 View Post

Folks who care about PQ have to work harder to get other Americans to agree with them, otherwise the Wal-mart effect will spread even further.

I'll take that as encouragement.
post #65 of 79
HD
sounds like good PQ
to me
post #66 of 79
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Broadc...&asset=&ccode=

Broadcasters' woes could spell trouble for free TV
Assailed by cable and the Web, broadcast TV looks to build a new business model

Companies:Cbs CorporationComcast CorporationWalt Disney Co.
By Andrew Vanacore, AP Business Writer , On Tuesday December 29, 2009, 8:54 am EST
NEW YORK (AP) -- For more than 60 years, TV stations have broadcast news, sports and entertainment for free and made their money by showing commercials. That might not work much longer.

The business model is unraveling at ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox and the local stations that carry the networks' programming. Cable TV and the Web have fractured the audience for free TV and siphoned its ad dollars. The recession has squeezed advertising further, forcing broadcasters to accelerate their push for new revenue to pay for programming.

That will play out in living rooms across the country. The changes could mean higher cable or satellite TV bills, as the networks and local stations squeeze more fees from pay-TV providers such as Comcast and DirecTV for the right to show broadcast TV channels in their lineups. The networks might even ditch free broadcast signals in the next few years. Instead, they could operate as cable channels -- a move that could spell the end of free TV as Americans have known it since the 1940s.

"Good programing is expensive," Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. owns Fox, told a shareholder meeting this fall. "It can no longer be supported solely by advertising revenues."

Fox is pursuing its strategy in public, warning that its broadcasts -- including college football bowl games -- could go dark Friday for subscribers of Time Warner Cable, unless the pay-TV operator gives Fox higher fees. For its part, Time Warner Cable is asking customers whether it should "roll over" or "get tough" in negotiations.

The future of free TV also could be altered as the biggest pay-TV provider, Comcast Corp., prepares to take control of NBC. Comcast has not signaled plans to end NBC's free broadcasts. But Jeff Zucker, who runs NBC and its sister cable channels such as CNBC and Bravo, told investors this month that "the cable model is just superior to the broadcast model."

The traditional broadcast model works like this: CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox distribute shows through a network of local stations. The networks own a few stations in big markets, but most are "affiliates," owned by separate companies.

Traditionally the networks paid affiliates to broadcast their shows, though those fees have dwindled to near nothing as local stations have seen their audience shrink. What hasn't changed is where the money mainly comes from: advertising.

Cable channels make most of their money by charging pay-TV providers a monthly fee per subscriber for their programing. On average, the pay-TV providers pay about 26 cents for each channel they carry, according to research firm SNL Kagan. A channel as highly rated as ESPN can get close to $4, while some, such as MTV2, go for just a few pennies.

With both advertising and fees, ESPN has seen its revenue grow to $6.3 billion this year from $1.8 billion a decade ago, according to SNL Kagan estimates. It has been able to bid for premium events that networks had traditionally aired, such as football games. Cable channels also have been able to fund high-quality shows, such as AMC's "Mad Men," rather than recycling movies and TV series.

That, plus a growing number of channels, has given cable a bigger share of the ad pie. In 1998, cable channels drew roughly $9.1 billion, or 24 percent of total TV ad spending, according to the Television Bureau of Advertising. By 2008, they were getting $21.6 billion, or 39 percent.

Having two revenue streams -- advertising and fees from pay-TV providers -- has insulated cable channels from the recession. In contrast, over-the-air stations have been forced to cut staff, and at least two broadcast groups sought bankruptcy protection this year.

Fox illustrates the trend: Its broadcast operations reported a 54 percent drop in operating income for the quarter that ended in September. Its cable channels, which include Fox News and FX, grew their operating income 41 percent.

Analyst Tom Love of ZenithOptimedia said he expects the big networks will end the year with a 9 percent drop in ad revenue, followed by an 8 percent drop in 2010 and zero growth in 2011.

A small chunk of the ad revenue is being recouped online, where the networks sell episodes for a few dollars each or run ads alongside shows on sites such as Hulu. Media economist Jack Myers projects online video advertising will grow into a $2 billion business by 2012, from just $350 million to $400 million this year.

But that is not significant enough to make up for the lost ad revenue on the airwaves. Advertisers spent $34 billion on broadcast commercials in 2008, down by $2.4 billion from two years earlier, according to the Television Bureau of Advertising.

So rather than wait for the Internet to become a bigger source of income, the networks and local stations are mimicking what cable channels do: They're charging pay-TV companies a monthly fee per subscriber to carry their programming.

Since 1994, the Federal Communications Commission has let networks and their affiliates seek payments for including their programming in the pay-TV lineup. Not everyone demanded payments at first. Instead they relied on the broader audience that cable and satellite gave them to increase what they could charge advertisers.

The big networks also were content to let their broadcast stations essentially be subsidized by higher fees for the cable channels that fell under the same corporate umbrella. A pay-TV company negotiating with the Walt Disney Co., which owns ABC, is likely paying more for the ABC Family channel than it otherwise would, with the extra assumed to help Disney cover its costs for the ABC network broadcasts.

But over time -- such contracts generally run about three years -- more networks began demanding payments for the stations they own. And affiliates already receiving the fees have bargained for more money.

Some talks have been tense. In 2007, Sinclair Broadcast Group, which operates 32 network-affiliated stations around the country, pulled its signals for nearly a month from Mediacom Communications Corp., which provides cable TV to about 1.3 million subscribers, mainly in small cities.

The American Cable Association says its members -- mainly small cable TV providers -- have seen their costs for carrying local TV stations more than triple over the past three years. The group's head, Matt Polka, says those fees have gone "straight to consumers' pocketbooks" in the form of higher cable bills.

Gannett Co., for instance, which operates 23 stations, has taken in $56 million in fees from pay-TV operators this year after negotiating a new batch of agreements, up from $18 million in 2008. Dave Lougee, president of Gannett's broadcast arm, defends the fees, saying "broadcasters were late to the game in really starting to go after the fair market value of their signals."

Analysts estimate CBS managed to get as much as 50 cents per subscriber in its most recent talks with pay-TV providers that carry CBS-owned stations. CBS Corp. chief Leslie Moonves said such fees should add "hundreds of millions of dollars to revenues annually."

That could be just the beginning. CBS and Fox are also asking for a portion of the fees that their affiliates get, arguing that the networks' shows are what give local stations the leverage to ask for fees.

Over time, the networks might be able to get even more money by abandoning the affiliate structure and undoing a key element of free TV.

Here's why: Pay-TV providers are paying the networks only for the stations the networks own. That amounts to a little less than a third of the TV audience, which means local affiliates recoup two-thirds of the fees. If a network operated purely as a cable channel and cut the affiliates out, the network could get the fees for the entire pay-TV audience.

If forced to go independent, affiliates would have to air their own programming, including local news and syndicated shows.

Fitch Ratings analyst Jamie Rizzo predicts that at least one of the four broadcast networks "could explore" becoming a cable channel as early as 2011.

Any shift would take years, as the networks untangle complicated affiliate contracts. At an analyst conference last year, CBS's Moonves called the idea an "a very interesting proposition." But he added that it "would really change the universe that we're in."
post #67 of 79
If the OTA networks would come together and go dark on CATV & Sat, I believe you'd see many subscribers take a look at OTA and stay with OTA's superior quality.
post #68 of 79
Indeed, but many folks have trouble with reception and DTV only made it worse. Maybe this slow economy will force many to cut the cord.

Whenever I here about this subject it's always about cable companies. Does the same hold true for satellite and fiber-optic? I think fiber-optice is gulping up a lot of business with their TV/DSL/phone bundling.
post #69 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by BCF68 View Post

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.

WGN america and WGN CW9 are seperate channels.
post #70 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by systems2000 View Post

If the OTA networks would come together and go dark on CATV & Sat, I believe you'd see many subscribers take a look at OTA and stay with OTA's superior quality.

There can be a technological problem with mixing OTA with Cable. The new TVs will often not allow you to tune CATV and OTA ATSC simultaneously. You may have to rescan every time you want to switch antenna inputs.
post #71 of 79
It's not like they don't already make televisions capable of something similar (ie. NTSC and ATSC). My old Toshiba 20" monitor (which I'm still using) has three different settings for OTA, Standard cable, & HRC (switchable from a button on the front of the television).
post #72 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by Floydage View Post

Whenever I here about this subject it's always about cable companies. Does the same hold true for satellite and fiber-optic?

Which subject? There are several contexts within this thread within which that question would be applicable. Generally, the answer to your question is that people often use the term "cable television" to refer to both terrestrial and satellite subscription television, i.e., the entire set of service providers. So, depending on the context, typically (though not always), "the same holds true".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Floydage View Post

I think fiber-optice is gulping up a lot of business with their TV/DSL/phone bundling.

It would be almost impossible for them not to. When fiber optic starts offering service in an area, they typically offer the entirety of the service that the legacy supplier offers -- all the channels. And they offer big incentives to try out their service. It would be like a new FAA-accredited airline starting to offer service from another airline's hub, and on Day One they're offering flights to and from that airport to every airport that that other airline serves, with as many flights per day and as much seating capacity per flight as that other airline. And, they're offering a big discount on your first few flights. How could that new airline fail to gobble up a lot of business?!?! It would be inconceivable for that to be the case.

That's one of the really easy parts of introducing fiber optic subscription television service into an area: After you've spent the money to build out the network and string the fiber, you don't have to worry, much, about whether you'll gain market share. You will. Lots. The only questions are how much of the legacy supplier's business will you take away, and whether or not in doing so you'll have to decimate the revenue stream so badly that neither of you can actually make enough profit.
post #73 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by systems2000 View Post

It's not like they don't already make televisions capable of something similar (ie. NTSC and ATSC). My old Toshiba 20" monitor (which I'm still using) has three different settings for OTA, Standard cable, & HRC (switchable from a button on the front of the television).

Unfortunately, with the advent of digital tuners in TVs, the simple switch has been mostly eliminated. The modern equivalent would be to connect a cable box to an A/V input, a CECB to another input, and the DVD/VCR/etc to another.

This may be a problem, however, since they grossly underestimated the need for CECBs and they can be very difficult to find anymore. Also, people bought the latest and greatest TV and are very resistant to connecting (and understanding how to switch) external boxes. A lot of consumers flatly refuse to believe that their analog cable is going away and that a box will be needed also. TV dealers won't tell you that you will need a box on your $2k+ set, and they certainly won't let you know that your 10 year old set will still work perfectly using external boxes. Do you want to explain to your mother how to switch between OTA and CATV? - and use multiple remotes in the process?


Your old TV had the ability to manually tune channels, digital TVs often do not.
If you don't scan it, it won't tune it.
Your TIVO probably won't load an EPG for Cable and OTA simultaneously.
Your Cable DVR surely can't and won't.
If your TV has CableCard capability, then the second tuner is often intentionally disabled under certain conditions.
Some TVs have nifty switching capabilities (high end XBR types?) most do not.
If you do a lot of research after you narrowly define your needs, then you can buy an appropriate TV but the odds are that anything purchased in the last 5 years will be deficient when it comes to mixing OTA and CATV.

Personally, I can watch and record from analog cable, clear QAM, OTA local and distant and am prepared to add digital cable boxes to the mix but my 30 year old, IT professional, son is lost with the complexity.
post #74 of 79
I completely understand.

I have a varied mix of units that include FTA, CECB's, DVR's, VCR's, combo units (even a "Home Theater" unit for DVD's, AM/FM, & CD's), A/B switches, and the use of the TV/Video switches on all my CRT's.

I was out at Sears the other day and there wasn't a CRT to be found. I looked over every one of the flat screens they had and finally needed to walk away, because of the headache I was getting from the image quality of the units. I didn't last long enough to evaluate any of the options on them.
post #75 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by systems2000 View Post

I completely understand.

I have a varied mix of units that include FTA, CECB's, DVR's, VCR's, combo units (even a "Home Theater" unit for DVD's, AM/FM, & CD's), A/B switches, and the use of the TV/Video switches on all my CRT's.

I was out at Sears the other day and there wasn't a CRT to be found. I looked over every one of the flat screens they had and finally needed to walk away, because of the headache I was getting from the image quality of the units. I didn't last long enough to evaluate any of the options on them.

I don't like the color on the new sets, even after calibrating.
I had a customer in one day with a brand new XX {brand doesn't really matter}. (I have a TV repair shop) He complained that it just didn't look right but couldn't describe why. We connected it to an outside antenna and did a scan. Fortunately there was one channel that was in actual HD and it looked good on it. Every other station was either an SD subchannel, or an upscaled show on the HD carrier. Even Oprah looked bad because the local affiliate doesn't have HD recording capabilities so they record in SD for later broadcast in pseudo-HD. Most of the new sets seem to automatically zoom otherwise window-boxed images.

The major brands have additional circuitry to clean up those upscaled broadcasts but apparently are leaving the circuits out of their smaller TVs, (under 40" or so) Almost everything easily available would benefit from that circuitry but it's missing in the "average" TV. Display sets are usually in "torch" mode also.
post #76 of 79
Hey, have you ever heard of people getting headaches from watching these new TVs that scan at 120 to 240 Hz? I read a Wiki article on scanning and there was a part in it about anything above 60 Hz causing headaches but that may have been in reference to CRTs.
post #77 of 79
I once saw a table top HD projection unit that didn't look too bad.

On a side note (but more related to this thread), I'm beginning to not appreciate the quality of some broadcast facilities. I wish they would quit starving their OTA transmissions, especially for those of us (in the fringe) who need the bandwidth to compensate for errors.
post #78 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by bicker1 View Post

Which subject? There are several contexts within this thread within which that question would be applicable.

The "Broadcaster' woes..."article we were discussing of which I posted a few posts previous. In general, the subject of cable companies supplying OTA network providers' content to their customers.

Funny I've noticed Fox here has been running OTA first-run movies during what's normally rerun season as the Fox/TWC battle wages on. And Dish Network is taking advantage by bragging about how they offer Fox with LOTS of commercials on Fox. Of course Fox is contantly keeping us informed with their own commercials and scroll bars at the bottom of the screen.
post #79 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by Floydage View Post

The "Broadcaster' woes..."article we were discussing of which I posted a few posts previous. In general, the subject of cable companies supplying OTA network providers' content to their customers.

Okay, my earlier reply does apply then: Yes, it applies. Right now we're hearing about Fox and TWC (and Brighthouse). Satellite and alternative terrestrial service providers will face the same issue.
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