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From Reuters via News.com...

Games to blast down digital TV pipes


Quote:
In a bid to bypass the bottlenecks of the Internet, a company backed by major U.S. TV station owners will launch a service to bring video games and other content to PCs via unused broadcast bandwidth.

iBlast, founded in 1999, taps the digital TV bandwidth that goes largely unused in most major cities to deliver content to PCs at speeds faster than 19 megabits per second. By comparison, a cable connection runs at about 1mbps.


Starting July 25 in Los Angeles, iBlast Games will offer people as much as 4 gigabytes of data every month for $4.99 to $9.99 per month. The hardware will cost $99 to $199, including a digital TV antenna and a receiver, available either as an add-in card or as an external USB device.
 

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I hope this venture falls flat on it back ASAP! That's all we need is for OTA channels to start making money on their digital channel, then we can kiss HD goodbye! They'll all be multicasting if this is sucessful!
 

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I'm know I'm in the minority on this board, but I think this isn't altogether bad. I want quality HD programing and I know that multi-casting can currently (and I stress, currently, because future versions of MPEG should become more efficient over time) introduce some problems in HD broadcasts. On the other hand, though, I don't think everything needs to be 1080i or 720P. I could care less if syndicated re-runs, news, and informercials - the bread and butter of independant stations - are in HD. For that matter, I could care less whether any daytime TV is HD, news shows are in HD, or even most sitcoms are in HD. What I want to see in HD is major sports, movies, network primetime entertainmet shows, Movie channels (HBO, etc), and PPV movies. So, if a local station is involved in this venture, I do see some possible benefits:

1 - digital HD PPV movies

If they stream HD quality digital PPV movies then they have something that I'd like. As it is now, the only HD PPV movie channel on DirectTV plays so late at night that I don't watch any of the movies. Since there isn't a wealth of information about this service, I don't know what type of PPV movies they plan to offer - as far as selection and PQ - but I'd be excited if it offered an alternative method of receiving and watching HD quality PPV movies.


2 - "On-Demand" network TV

This type of service would seem to open the door to networks to provide "on-demand" TV shows. I can see a pay service that would allow a user to download and watch the full catalogue of network shows that have been broadcasted over the past month (or longer) if I could download HD versions of those shows.


3 - Additional competition for cable/satellite services

Any additional pressure on these services to provide better services is a plus in my book. The fact that digital cable and digital satellite like to advertise their "digital" quality really obscures the fact they suffer from really poor PQ due to compression of their signals. If this iBlast service provides downloadable data, they shouldn't need to compress the signal in the same way that cable and satellite do. That would be a huge plus.


Like everyone else in this forum, I'm for more HD content - especially quality content. If IBlast can provide an overall increase in quality HD content and more flexibility in when I chose to view that content - even at the expense of artifacting HD broadcasts - then I still say it's a good thing. If all it does is provide poor quality, low-def content that mimics cable and satellite offerings while degrading HD broadcast signals then it is a bad thing.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by FrankS
I hope this venture falls flat on it back ASAP! That's all we need is for OTA channels to start making money on their digital channel, then we can kiss HD goodbye! They'll all be multicasting if this is sucessful!
Actually, if they don't make money off of HD, they will never support it.


The ATSC format always transmits 19.3 Mbps no matter what the required bit rate of the program being broadcast. Even at 1080i with the bitrate set in the encoder to 17 Mbps, the program is often demanding far less. For example, a scene that is static for a few seconds will consist of an I frame that needs a fairly high amount of data followed by 14 B or P frames that only require data when something moves. Repeat that sequence twice for every second the image remains static. During this period, the data rate is very low and the ATSC encoder pads it with meaningless data. The process is called stuffing and is necessary in order to allow for the inclusion of an embedded clock and to keep the bandwidth low. The IBlast system merely substitutes it's data in place of the stuffing bits. This is called opportunistic data. It does not steal bandwidth away from the program. Therefore IBlast makes money, the station makes money and the program goes out unaltered.
 

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spwace,


I have no gripe with opportunistic datacasting being mux'ed into the ATSC stream. I do object to Clear Channel's Delta V plan where they make a hard division of spectum and dedicate 4Mbps of spectrum to datacasting. I suspect that real time secondary video feeds won't be possible without degrading the quality for the primary HD video feed.


After all, during fast motion in basketball or whitewater rafting, even 19.3 Mbps for video, audio, PSIP and assorted cats and dogs isn't enough. In my opinion, anything that requires a constant, large amount of data taken from away from the primary video stream is a bad thing.


Jim
 

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The more opportunities for stations to make money multi-casting the LESS chance they will do HD! You really must be naive to think the stations will not blow HD off if they have 2-3 difference revenue streams created by multi-casting. And this gaming deal would be used during prime time when kids are home so the argument that stations will do multi-casting only during the daytime and go to HD at night holds no water.
 

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Opportunistic data-casting is not multicasting. Multicasting divides the transport stream into dedicated data streams for each program. Opportunistic data-casting utilizes unused space within the stream which would otherwise be stuffed with random, meaningless bits. It is analogous to the heater in your car. Instead of dumping the excess heat into the atmosphere, it uses it to keep you warm.


Without opportunities to make money, stations won't support DTV and without DTV there is no HDTV. To argue that an opportunity for stations to make money, with no impact on the quality of the program, is a bad thing baffles me.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by spwace


Without opportunities to make money, stations won't support DTV and without DTV there is no HDTV. To argue that an opportunity for stations to make money, with no impact on the quality of the program, is a bad thing baffles me.
I think you fail to remember that the stations don't have a choice whether they want to support DTV or not! They must or they will have no airwaves to broadcast on. They get the damn bandwidth for free and they seem to be surviving now without multi-casting so I don't support or feel sorry for stations who don't get a windfall by doing DTV. And these stations that are looking to multicast will more then likely forgo HD because of their greed and don't care much for their viewership as is evident these days!
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by FrankS
I think you fail to remember that the stations don't have a choice whether they want to support DTV or not! They must or they will have no airwaves to broadcast on. They get the damn bandwidth for free and they seem to be surviving now without multi-casting so I don't support or feel sorry for stations who don't get a windfall by doing DTV. And these stations that are looking to multicast will more then likely forgo HD because of their greed and don't care much for their viewership as is evident these days!
What windfall? You don't want them to make money off of it, so it's just a multimillion dollar expense.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by FrankS
I think you fail to remember that the stations don't have a choice whether they want to support DTV or not! They must or they will have no airwaves to broadcast on. They get the damn bandwidth for free and they seem to be surviving now without multi-casting so I don't support or feel sorry for stations who don't get a windfall by doing DTV. And these stations that are looking to multicast will more then likely forgo HD because of their greed and don't care much for their viewership as is evident these days!
Yes and no. There is no windfall, but the stations are the ones who campaigned for the extra bandwidth. They bitched and moaned when the wireless and cell phone companies lobbied for the unused TV bandwidth. They claimed it was theirs and came up with the whole DTV/HDTV concept. I doubt that they will give it up for interactive games, but it is economic nature to maximize return. I think networks have conceded to lose money for a while in order to avoid losing their bandwidth and make money in the long term. Windfall - no, but long term growth - yes.


Multicasting for now is just a way to broaden exposure. Without Neilson ratings on DTV, nobody can really sell advertising and make a profit.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by KenA



Yes and no. There is no windfall, but the stations are the ones who campaigned for the extra bandwidth. They bitched and moaned when the wireless and cell phone companies lobbied for the unused TV bandwidth. They claimed it was theirs and came up with the whole DTV/HDTV concept. I doubt that they will give it up for interactive games, but it is economic nature to maximize return. I think networks have conceded to lose money for a while in order to avoid losing their bandwidth and make money in the long term. Windfall - no, but long term growth - yes.


Multicasting for now is just a way to broaden exposure. Without Neilson ratings on DTV, nobody can really sell advertising and make a profit.
1. It's not extra bandwidth in the long run, because the stations have to give one of their frequencies back. The only way to transition between two completely incompatible systems is to have a period where both systems are operational. That is why the frequencies were allocated. When the requisite number of people are receiving their TV digitally, the frequencies will be returned and the analog system will be shut down.


2. Nobody ever threatened to take away the frequencies that the stations were already broadcasting on, so they weren't going to lose their bandwidth.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by FrankS
I think you fail to remember that the stations don't have a choice whether they want to support DTV or not! They must or they will have no airwaves to broadcast on. They get the damn bandwidth for free and they seem to be surviving now without multi-casting so I don't support or feel sorry for stations who don't get a windfall by doing DTV. And these stations that are looking to multicast will more then likely forgo HD because of their greed and don't care much for their viewership as is evident these days!
Wow, I've never heard a more pessimistic view blanketed by counter arguments of naivity. The costs to go digital are very high, in fact they are astronomical to most local stations in small markets. This idea helps fuel the digital transistion for these small stations by providing an incentive to go digital quicker (instead of 2006 or longer becuase of legal red tape). The idea that it will impact HD is unfounded simply becuase once these stations go digital, and viewers are buying more HDTVs, the viewers will demand HD programming. This solves the chicken-egg dilemma. With more digital stations, there will be more people buying HDTVs and wanting to see HD shows from these stations. Consequently, a larger viewing audience shifts the power to HDTV viewers from the analog hegemony. We win.
 
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