Scott's Thought's: Satellite HDTV - Too Little, Too Late? (1 Viewer)

Scott Greczkowski

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Over the past 3 months the big buzz in the satellite world has been that 4 letter word which is catching on like wildfire and that word (or acronym) is HDTV.

For months people were jumping on the case of both satellite providers begging them to add more content.

DirecTV Senior Vice President of Programming Stephanie Campbell received thousands of emails and phone calls (some of them not too kind) of people looking for more new HD programming.

Stephanie was able to put together a nice HD package which made Dish Networks HD offerings look like small potatos, now Dish Network was getting flooded with emails and phone calls with customers begging for more HD.

Dish Network came through with the exact same package that DirecTV is offering (for $1 less)

My question is are the satellite companies offers too small and a little too late?

Yesterday my wife and I went to the Big E which is a GIANT fair which is made up of all the New England States. As you walk around in each exhibit building you could see that HDTV was the big electronics buzz word.

Comcast Cable had a HUGE booth with some nice plasma HDTV screens showing some recorded stuff from ESPN-HD and INHD. And their booth was full of people looking for some real HD content. Comcasts HD offerings made both satellite companies combined offerings look like Childs play and to make matters worse they were telling customers that when a new HD Channel comes on you will get it with Comcast, with Satellite chances are you will have to change out your Dish for a special new dish. This alone had many housewifes saying your right how do I sign up.

As I stood in the booth listening I was amazed how many people had HD ready TV sets but had no tuners to watch TV.

It also amazed me to see many Dish and DirecTV subs saying they were dropping the Dish because comcast offers the locals in HD.

We all know both Dish Network and DirecTV are gearing up to add more HDTV, but is this rush to add HDTV a little too late?

Cable has realized that their advantage over satellite is their ability to offer HD that Satellite can't! Comcast has entered into deals with the Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins to offer their games in HD, these are games you will never see on satellite.

A few years ago people were running to satellite for a better picture and more channels, now with Digital Cable and HDTV content that you can never get from satellite it seems as though people just may be switching back to cable.

What can satellite do to fight back? Thats a tough question. They upgrade deals both companies are offering are a start, but still more needs to be done.

What do you think the satellite companies should do?
 

Cyclone

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Trying watching Discovery, or the HDNet channels on Comcast. Also, if you put up an antenna, you'll get more locals than Comcast will carry. Trying getting WB with its 77% HD primetime line up with Comcast, it isn't there.

Comcast is putting forth just enough effort to get people worried about satellite. I get about 11 Digital local stations with my Dish 6000, but comcast offers only 5 of these 11.

Cable will have the advantage when they exercise anti-trust tactics such as getting exclusive broadcast rights to Regional Sports Networks (SD or HD) by owning the Teams (Philly) or the Networks (CSN-HD).

Dish and D* would do well to develop the Best Damn ATSC tuners that can be made for their STBs and also good small OTA antenna that will fit on existing Dishes.

Well, thats my Rant.

As far as the too little too late. I think with the 921 and SuperDish, that Charlie is going to be in the best position that he could expect to be in at this time. Well, I think he should have beat football season with this HDTV offerings, but he got close anyway. At least he didn't miss it all together. There isn't really many HDTV channels out there that Charlie Doesn't carry now. INHD is a cable creation, it its absense it excused, and Bravo-HD and others will likely be around come SuperDish time.
 

Scott Greczkowski

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Thanks Cylcone, btw I should mention I live in COX area and they are rolling out HD here next month, from what I understand Discovery HD, ESPN-HD, INHD, HDNet and HDNet movies are all included (plus all the locals!)

I think the killer app is your locals in HD. Both Dish and DirecTV combined do not have enough bandwidth to carry all the local HD channels.
 

Ken_F

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Dish and D* would do well to develop the Best Damn ATSC tuners that can be made for their STBs and also good small OTA antenna that will fit on existing Dishes.
As someone else suggested, I think the satellite providers should explore the possibility of integrating an OTA antenna with their satellite dishes, or perhaps add a mount to the rear of their dishes that can be used to add an optional OTA antenna. The best possible technology for 8-VSB will be required in the receiver.

If it's feasible, I think the satellite providers should also look to integrate diplexors for OTA into their satellite switches; that way, the OTA signal would be distributed to all receiver outputs with the minimal of signal loss. It would be ideal to run only a single cable to a two-tuner PVR; then using a single diplexor/splitter, the cable feed would be split into 1 OTA and 2 PVR cable feeds. At some distant point into the future, perhaps an external diplexor would not even be needed, so you could have one cable going into a PVR that would suffice for all OTA and 2 tuner functionality.
 

brentp

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I think you are correct, it is going to come down to the locals in HD again. I'm fortunate enough to live in an area where we can receive all the Boston digital channels, . . . and the truth is, I prefer to receive my locals OTA in digital now so that there is no compression loses. Prior to LIL, we did the same thing with analog reception. This was OK but not great. Once the Boston DMAs were put up, it made sense to go digital through Dish for the locals, . . . once I got the 6000 and the large screen where the compression artifacts really showed, it made sense to go back to OTA, but with the digital channels.

This is a tough question, . . . and made real tough for me once I heard that NESN was going HD with the local sports teams (Red Sox & Bruins). At least my local cable company has not yet offered an HD package, say nothing about NESN-HD. My hope is though, that NESN has a big enough market for Dish to put up NESN HD, . . . at least when these teams play, . . . but I really don't think that will happen.

For those that do not live close enough to get the networks OTA, . . . I do believe the solution is simple, . . . technically at least. Politically, it will likely never happen, but if Dish and Direct want to compete in the HD space with cable, something is going to have to be done! I believe Dish and Direct need to get congress to change the laws and allow them to put out a single HD feed for each network. If the can't do that fully and need to support local commercials and programming, then solve that with intelligence in the receivers. Technology could be build into the receivers to switch to the SD feed for those cases. The SD feed is already there, so there is no more bandwidth needed. Again, should be simple from a technology point of view, . . . . but highly volatile in the political arena and will require the local to give up a little control.

I do hope they are working the issue, because HD really could be the eventual DBS 'killer app' that they can not provide and lose their business.
 

marko

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The satellite companies need to make sure their HDTV package prices do not get too expensive. Many cable suppliers have been offering their hdtv channels for free. Right now for a year of HDTV programming from dish, I pay $109 ($9 a month). This is acceptable to me, but as they acquire new channels, they will have very little leeway in raising the price.

I agree with what was said about locals above.

They need to make the hdtv equipment affordable. Again, cable customer don't have that large one time investment to make. $200, like what I payed for 6000 +8vsb, is a very acceptable amount, and would offer a competitve alternative soltuion to cable.

Satellite companies will need an answer to the cable hdtv pvr boxes (when they come out). Supposedly, by next year, these will be available, for an equivalent price of regular cable pvr box (at least for Time Warner Cable). Unfortunately, I do not think satellite companies will be able to provide an answer to this at an attainable price. I hope I'm wrong, but I see this as a big drawing point to cable for the pvr customers.

I'm sure I'm missing a couple things.
 

Scott Greczkowski

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brentp said:
This is a tough question, . . . and made real tough for me once I heard that NESN was going HD with the local sports teams (Red Sox & Bruins). At least my local cable company has not yet offered an HD package, say nothing about NESN-HD. My hope is though, that NESN has a big enough market for Dish to put up NESN HD, . . . at least when these teams play, . . . but I really don't think that will happen.

This is the bad part the Red Sox and Bruins game are ONLY available from COMCAST. They are footing the bill for the equipment and production. While they are calling it NESN HD, it is not a NESN production. They ONLY transmit the HD feed via Fibre cable, this means the satellite companies will not have the oportunity to broadcast these games. I doubt Comcast will offer these games to the DBS companies, and most of the ads on the games are for COMCAST. I would hope COMCAST would open the games up to other cable system which are not served by comcast, but so far its Comcast only.
 

Stargazer

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If Dish Network and/or DirecTV gets a decent HD lineup available after their competition does (Rainbow-Voom, cable, etc) then it will be too late. They will have to come out with the channels first to get the customers first. Not only would there have to be a very good offering of HD but also hardware at an affordable cost to compete against cable.

Satelite did not have enough space a while back to launch all local DMA's. When HD for locals become the norm and there is enough room to broadcast them all finally or a solution is found for local commercials to save some space, something new may already have came ot by that time.

You have to stay a step ahead and with cable getting lots of bandwidth, satellite has to find a way to also acquire lots of bandwidth.
 

brentp

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Scott Greczkowski said:
This is the bad part the Red Sox and Bruins game are ONLY available from COMCAST. They are footing the bill for the equipment and production. While they are calling it NESN HD, it is not a NESN production.

Well, . . . that really is a bummer. Guess I missed that part of it!
 

James

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I've been going back and forth on this. I have DirecTV HD, but Cox can offer just what I have with my locals, and I don't need an ugly dish. If DirecTV can get a HD TiVo out soon, I might stay, but if I get into the spring without one, I might be calling up Cox.
 

rad

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While the cable companies can react quicker to adding HDTV then D*/E* at this time I'd probably stay with DBS for other reasons, #1 how about relability? Yep, my dish may go out for a few minutes every now and then but it's no match for a cable outage that last hours if not days.

That's even assuming that cable, in my case Comcast even offers HDTV, which it doesn't. Even when they say they do they may not. I have a friend that lives in Chicago, where Comcast issued a press release saying that Chicago could get HD and how happy Michael Powell was at the progress. Too bad that not all regions in Chicago can get HD and Comcast won't even say when they can. Sorry, I tried cable and unless the deal is just too good I'll stay on DBS.
 

Scott Greczkowski

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Rad I guess the quality of the cable company depends on the company and where you live.

Where I live I have COX and I have had Cox Internet and Cox Telephone service for 4 years and only know of a 5 min outtage a few years ago.

Other cable system however go out if you sneeze to hard. :)
 

Sean Mota

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I will also stay with DBS. My current cable provider Cablevision has to be the worse of all. It took them years to get digital cable to my neighborhood. They want two separate account for each household (just because I live in a two family house). E* only charges me for one account. Being that they were the only one that provided cable in my area, they were very arrogant and never made the atempt of improving or making changes to their system, until satellite came and it gave us a new option.

I will not change to cable. It will cost me double the amount of satellite. Locals in HD, I will get them OTA. I do not need cablevision to give me their lousy signal. Cablevision moves at the pace of a turtle...
 

James

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rad said:
While the cable companies can react quicker to adding HDTV then D*/E* at this time I'd probably stay with DBS for other reasons, #1 how about relability? Yep, my dish may go out for a few minutes every now and then but it's no match for a cable outage that last hours if not days.
I've never lost my Cox Telephone and Internet over the past 4 years I've had them. I have rain fade every time we get a monsoon or dust storm in the summer here.
 

platinum

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motjes2 said:
I will also stay with DBS. My current cable provider Cablevision has to be the worse of all. It took them years to get digital cable to my neighborhood. They want two separate account for each household (just because I live in a two family house). E* only charges me for one account. Being that they were the only one that provided cable in my area, they were very arrogant and never made the atempt of improving or making changes to their system, until satellite came and it gave us a new option.

I will not change to cable. It will cost me double the amount of satellite. Locals in HD, I will get them OTA. I do not need cablevision to give me their lousy signal. Cablevision moves at the pace of a turtle...

I agree with you, Cablevision for tv stinks, but optimimun online is very good.
 

jm9

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I have come to the conclusion that cable will probably be the long term choice for me. FSN (Fox Sport Net) in my area will start broadcasting some hockey and basketball games in HD after the first of the year. Will Dish or Direct broadcast regional sport networks in HD? I can't spend over $1000 in equipment not to get this channel. I have had a HDTV for over 2 years with no tuner. I really have not missed that much programming, but this fall I'm missing programming because Dish can't deliver on hardware. I'm a DHP customer so I can switch without loosing any investment. Comcast just came out with HD in my area (Minneapolis) they are not broadcasting all local channels yet, so I sit and wait until somebody can offer a simple solution.
 

Ray S

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I live in central-coastal NJ, adjacent to Asbury Park. I have Cablevision for a provider as well. I couldn't agree with you more about cablevision. I only have two satellite receivers so far the 301 and the 501. I am on the pre-order list with DishDept for the 911 and will get the 801as well. When I get the superdish, I will probably drop Cablevison entirely.
 

DishSatUser

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Perhaps to late for early adoptees, but what about the rest?

I myself continue to watch the HDTV debates, but I have yet to purchase an HDTV.

Primarily it's a cost issue, I've shown all of the different HDTV's and what the content looks like to my Wife and family, but they just don't see shelling out anything over a thousand dollars. :oops:

In fact, the best I was able to work out was the JVC 27" flatscreen TV with 16:9 enhanced mode to replace our 12 year old TV that was fading out. Don't get me wrong though, using DVD's with the component inputs and using the 16:9 enhanced mode is the best you can get without an HDTV set. :) In fact, I'd like Dishnetwork to start offering more content in anamorphic widescreen format, so that I can take advantage of the 16:9 ehanced viewing mode. If they could offer even downconverted HD local content in anamorphic widescreen as my SD locals, this would be a plus for me. This would also reduce the display changes that HDTV users would see as well wouldn't it? :?: Might be a stop gap until they can technologically host the HDTV locals.
:arrow:
Anyway, I left my topic.

What are the actual statistics out there for a ration of HDTV to Analog based sets? I bet it's still less than 5%, if that.

At this point in time, I think that Sat, Cable and Local TV stations are all trying to entice viewers to HDTV, but that the current number of HDTV customers they are competing for are a small market at this time.

True, this market is the future, especially with the mandate to move to an all Digital TV system by 2006 (although this could be further delayed, look at all the previous timelines). TV manufacturers are continuing to produce newer, and slowly, less expensive models that will continue to be purchased at a growing rate.

My point is, in a winded manner, is that Sat does need to compete with larger offerings, but to say that during the fall of 2004 that they are too late may be an overstatement.

Of course, the holiday shopping season is coming, and more families will be looking into HDTV TV sets and methods of viewing, so Sat companies better work fast! :shock:
 

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