ION Launches QVC Nationwide, New York City Included
ION Television is positively airing the 24/7/363.5 shopping channel, QVC, over most, if not all, of their O&O affiliates across the United States over a new .5 subchannel. How entertaining it is depends on whether you typically enjoy watching two people standing on a set - one person demonstrating products he or she hopes to sell you while the other person hosts the marketplace festivity. The new digital subchannel lit up in market #1 sometime on August 7, 2013.
QVC, which stands for "Quality, Value, Convenience", may now be conveniently available to viewers with a free over-the-air signal, but it's quality - in terms of bitrate - leaves much to be desired. It is obvious that this subchannel is taking more than one for the team when compared to its older subchannel neighbors. As would be expected, this is a static 4:3 SD program. But the video is apparently sourced from an HD feed, downconverted to SD, and then squeezed to fit 4:3 screens. The good news is that there is accurate program guide data and there are no black bars to waste screen area, the bad news is just about everything else. Incidentally, the bit-starved quality is quite noticeable on a standard CRT television; how it looks on a widescreen HD television is quite predictable. The PSIP TVCT channel name is "QVC". Whether QVC brings added value to the current NYC broadcast dial will be determined by its eventual audience. However, by offering a near complete calendar year of advertising and shopping, it will not stand alone in this market. And it nicely complements ION's .4 subchannel right next door, which in this market is now labeled "Shop"
The programming, at least when I checked it around 1AM, matches that which is broadcasted over cable and satellite television. The bug on the OTA signal, however, indicates that this feed is intended for the terrestrial broadcast TV. The standard "This is your ION Television Station" legal ID is displayed in white print on the screen bottom at the top of each hour. This form of legal ID is standard for all of the ION subchannels.
While this is the first time that ION has aired a .5 subchannel, it should be noted that the bandwidth was previously occupied by all or part of the Airbox subscription TV service, which has been sporadically airing over many of the ION affiliates, but hasn't been actively marketed to the public. As such, this move could be an indication that ION will, at least for now, expand their spectrum with ATSC viewable signals and thus capitalize on the existing broadcast digital TV infrastructure.