Is there a reason why most HD on Dish is compressed so much more?
Couldn't they sacrifice a bit of quality and bring everything into a range where we don't go from near perfect IQ for locals, to pretty good for National HD to downright atrocious for the RSNs?
They applied for, and were granted, the permission to down-res locals, and they do it as needed. My KC locals don't look nearly as good as OTA, and the difference is clear on a 37" screen from 10' away. You may be in an "exceptional" market, where there's a whole spotbeam pointed at your hamlet, and it's only carrying 4 HD and 8 SD feeds. I'm not an engineer, so I don't know if they can widen the focus on a spotbeam dynamically or not, but I don't think it's possible.
A spotbeam has to cover a specific footprint on the map, and a CONUS transponder has to cover the whole or nearly the whole nation. They can't transmit CONUS feeds on a spotbeam, because they'd have to mirror that feed across multiple markets, negating the benefit of utilizing "underused" spotbeams. Even at that, which CONUS HD feeds (out of the 200 or so) would they mirror? The only way to improve PQ (not IQ) on CONUS feeds is to reduce the number of feeds per TP. And the only way to use more TPs for CONUS feeds is to reduce the number of spotbeams, which just isn't an option.