[opendtv] Re: Australia DTV

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 26 Nov 2006 07:38:19 -0500

At 3:20 PM -0500 11/25/06, Albert Manfredi wrote:
The way I would have said it, Craig, is, "One can only imagine what the DTT penetration would be in the US now, if OTA usership were at greater than 75 percent, given that multicasting has always been allowed here." (Although with the mandate, I don't think a 30 percent penetration will be too hard to come by in short order. I know, "not fair.")

But of course you would Bert.

But I'll play along.

If we were to take the approach that ATSC was to replace the primary service for 75% of U.S. homes, as opposed to 15%, then it would be completely logical to think that this mess would already be completely over. A much higher percentage of consumers would have had reason to switch from analog to digital, and the content providers would have had (in theory) less reason to protect the subscription services from competition.

Being dependent on DTV to support their primary business, broadcasters would be much more concerned about the ability to provide service to the 75% of homes that might be expected to use it. And a much higher percentage of consumers would likely have tried to use the service and failed, or at least experienced serious problems. As a result the problems with ATSC would have been identified, but it is unlikely that these problems would have been whitewashed. Real comparisons would have taken place and ATSC would have been thrown out at least five years ago.

And you are really dreaming Bert, if you think that even the remain 15% of homes that now depend on NTSC service will all convert to ATSC.

The only way that the terrestrial service will start growing market share again, is if they offer competitive reasons to come back. They will need to offer competitive programming and a very high likelihood that service can be established with minimum effort. And most important they will need to develop new services that people want, but cannot get from competitors, like portability and mobility.

I don't know for sure, but my guess is that we haven't seen 75 percent household usage of OTA TV since the early to mid 1980s. That's when TVs started being sold set to cable channels by default, over here.

TVs are not sold set to cable by default over here now. I doubt they ever have been. But this has nothing to do with it the problem anyway. The problem is that NTSC service was never that good, and when competitive alternatives came along viewers switched.

Hope this is what you were looking for Bert.

Not really. What I was interested in learning from Dale is what the popular thinking on subscription TV is in Oz. Over here, it seems to be the way you describe it for yourself. "No other choice." Evidently, without a greater choice of OTA channels there than OTA TV in the US, the popular perceptions are completely different down under. Why ithat is would be an interesting topic. And since this has nothing to do with digital TV per se, perhaps we could dispense with the simplistic "explanations."

I hope Dale will respond with what you want.

Perhaps you misunderstood my comment about no other choice.

These are the choices I have today:

OTA analog - it is not possible to receive an NBC affiliate in this market. That leaves me with ABC, CBS, FOX, PBS and CW.

OTA Digital - it is not possible to receive an NBC affiliate in this market. That leaves me with ABC, CBS, FOX, PBS and CW.

Cable - all local stations in analog. ABC, PBS, and CBS in HD. NBC is imported from Orlando, but NBC-HD is blocked due to retransmission consent negotiations.

DBS - this market is not currently served with local stations from either Dish or DirecTV. You can get the national NBC feed, but the local stations will not provide waivers for the national feeds from ABC, CBS, Fox ( not certain about PBS).

So I can put up an antenna and watch 5 channels for free, or I can pay in excess of $40/mo for a multichannel service. And if I go with DBS I still need an antenna to receive local stations.

So that is the choice I have.

But the comment, which you took out of context, was actually directed at the lack of competition between multichannel services. If i want the cable channels that I spend most of my time watching now, I have "no choice" but to pay more than $40/mo. When new competitors enter the market they take on the existing rate structure, possibly offering a very small price advantage. When DBS entered the market cable rates did not come down. Now that the telcos are entering the markets, rates are not coming down.

So either I get a little bit of crap for free, or I must pay - there is no choice.

Speaking of this dilemma, I just did some remodeling work for a Registered Nurse who works at the Untiversity of Florida. She is close to my age. She just dropped DirecTV, because she was not using it much and the local broadcasters will not allow them to provide the major networks at ANY price. She has no interest in putting up an antenna, so for now, she has joined the growing number of homes that Just Don't Do TV. As long as we are speculating, I would suggest that a sizable portion of the remaining OTA audience are actually homes that don't do TV.

This lady says she will probably subscribe to DISH in the future when she can get all of the major networks.


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