Thanks for the link. The article, of course, refers to Time Warner's digital delivery of HBO and other services. That's different from HDTV HBO, although both may be digital MPEG-2. Currently, believe TWC's NTSC HBO can be one of 10 digital channels compressed into a 6-MHz cable slot. But only two HDTV programs fit a 6-MHz slot. Agree HDTV video on demand is a nice concept.
It would be interesting to see a breakdown of the available space--and how it's used--in a typical 750-MHz cable system like that used for the video-on-demand trial. In my NYC TWC system, for example, I just heard an ad touting 40 separate basketball games being available on reserved channels via subscription. TWC here has lots of reserved NTSC channels. But HDTV channels are still very scarce, especially after losing several in the Trade Tower attack.
The article points out TWC had to improve its software to handle some 900 simultaneous requests instead of the 20 they'd planned on. You'd think with a large number of VOD requests even a 750-Mhz system would be overloaded. -- John
Which is why they have the concept of Near VOD. This is made to work in conjunction with a PVR. You log in your request, and sometime over the next hour or three, you get the movie. Another method is to select 1/2 dozen at a time, and you only pay for the ones you watch, when you want them. When you consider that hard disks cost will drop by a factor of 3 or 4 over the next year (pixie dust drives), this could be viable. Makes a lot more sense for BW limited systems.
I've followed the announcements about cable converters with built-in hard drives for VOD. But the sub-links to the initial post, such as the HBO's FAQ about VOD, say the delivery of selected movies is nearly instantaneous.
Can't imagine great sales for 'near-VOD' with a 1-3 hour wait for downloads. Currently, if I want to watch most of the lead pay-be-view movie selections, my cable company has a new showing starting every 30 minutes or so.
According to the map at HBO's VOD site, there are only about 3 locations testing it now (including Long Island, NY). It will be interesting to see, if there is an extended wait to download and store selected movies and other productions, whether the ability to pause and rewind playback can outsell viewer's demand for instantaneous entertainment. -- John
The wait will depend on usage and how high up the food chain the movie you are interested in sits at. New releases etc will be very fast as they will have lots of requests, but, as demand grows, bandwidth stays constant. Therefore, either the delay to get a particular movie increases, or the library of movies decreases. As far as the wait goes, thats not that big a deal. Consider Netflix, its "delay" is considerably more than 3 hours.
I don't see anything in that article indicating that the content would be HD. The only mention of HDTV is in this sentence:
AOL Time Warner plans an aggressive rollout of various digital television services -- including HBO On Demand, PVR and HDTV -- by the end of next year with the help of Scientific Atlanta, the set-top box manufacturer.
To my mind, this makes "HBO On Demand", "PVR" and "HDTV" to be separate and distinct services.
Not to say that they couldn't do it, but the article neither states or implies that they what they're testing now has anything to do with high definition television. (Now, iffen they was smart, the makers of these NVOD appliances would make them so that they record an MPEG stream at any rate, from DVB through HD rates, then deliver them back to the main cable STB, which would either decode it itself, or pass it through to an HD decoder, if necessary. That's iffen they was smart ).
-- Mike Scott
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