[opendtv] Re: Digital Trends: ESPN may pull its finger out of the Internet-TV dam, unleash a flood of change

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 9 Feb 2014 09:32:50 -0500

> On Feb 8, 2014, at 7:16 PM, Albert Manfredi <albert.e.manfredi@xxxxxxxxxx> 
> wrote:
> Craig Birkmaier wrote:

>> So why do you need OTT TV?
> Not because of inadequate reception. I use OTT, for prime time, because it 
> provides VOD without my having to use the PVR (i.e. laziness), and because it 
> prevents any schedule conflicts which even a PVR has to deal with.
> Not because of inadequate reception. I use OTT, for prime time, because it 
> provides VOD without my having to use the PVR (i.e. laziness), and because it 
> prevents any schedule conflicts which even a PVR has to deal with.

So what you are saying is that you prefer VOD over appointment TV. With respect 
to "some" of their content, the broadcast networks offer both. Live and 

But even here, some network content, mostly sports, can only be viewed live 
because the right holders limit them to live broadcasts; Internet rights, and 
the rights to watch out-of-market games (like NFL Sunday Ticket on DirectTV) 
are licensed separately. NFL Sunday Ticket Max from DiectTV also allows you to 
watch these games on your computer and mobile devices.

> Probably so. Because the legality of meddling inside private walled gardens 
> is not clear cut, as it is for use of the publically-owned spectrum. Point is 
> still, it's the MVPDs that created obstacles, and your solution would have 
> been to force everyone to use MVPDs. That's the bottom line.

It is the rights holders who create the obstacles Bert, not the MVPDs. The 
MVPDs are more than happy to play along, as it is highly profitable for them as 
well. Why get into a price war over something that 85% of the population is 
willing (perhaps begrudgingly) to pay for.

> So you claim. How odd. Now that OTA can give them more competition, and is 
> (in conjunction with OTT sites), you seem to prefer taking the OTA choice 
> away, by making the FCC totally derelict in defining adequately the OTA DTV 
> standard. That was your advice to them.

I do not want to take FOTA TV away Bert. But I do want it to work; an antenna 
in a fireplace is not a viable solution. A viable solution is a modulation 
system that works as well as LTE on mobile devices.

OTA is not providing more competition, because it does not deliver what the 
public really wants. This is even true for YOU. 

It provides a few more programs you can watch on THEIR schedule. It cannot 
provide VOD, or deliver the program you want, when you have time to watch. It 
CAN deliver live events; this is the core feature that keeps FOTA viable, as we 
saw last weekend with the Superbowl.

It would not have been derelict for the FCC to follow our advice. Clearly just 
defining the transport layer works for the Internet, and even the Internet uses 
different modulation standards, based on the requirements of the pipe. If there 
was demand, the marketplace would. have supported the "TV App." As I pointed 
out, the TV manufacturers did anyway, ignoring the FCC Table 3 Non-mandate.

> Nonsense. As long as ESPN remains in walled gardens, sports addicts won't 
> give up MVPDs anyway. Universal Sports was already available over cable. All 
> they did was lose the OTA audience, and audience unlikely to buy cable just 
> to get that subchannel. Same stupid move Aljazeera made. It's called, "being 
> too greedy for your own good."

No Bert, it is called bundling, not greed (well O.K. It's both). As more 
content moves behind the walls, the FOTA option is further diluted. The free 
Internet options provide a catch-up service that helps build ratings, but does 
almost nothing to help you access the content behind the walls.

> Perhaps, or perhaps not. Cable companies and DBS companies find it amazingly 
> easy to use totally incompatible standards. Since the FCC is charged with the 
> RF public spectrum, having an FCC mandate for the TV app is very logical. It 
> prevents the possibility of CE manufacturers colluding with broadcasters or 
> congloms, to create OTA walled gardens. And we have seen how CE manufacturers 
> are prone to such collusion.

The MVPDs build and operate their infrastructures. Each have different 
technical requirements; Coax, fiber, DBS. Historically, cable systems have used 
different standards and suppliers; not a problem, as they make a lot of money 
renting STBs. At least they have unbundled cable modems, and at the transport 
level, the cable systems all use the same digital video standards, though the 
conditional access systems are different, requiring dedicated cable cards. And 
proprietary systems are not all bad; the DBS systems now deploy boxes that 
support h.264, because they can push more channels in the same spectrum.

As for mandating a TV app for broadcasters, this only benefits the owners of 
the IP behind the App. There is absolutely no reason that broadcasters COULD 
NOT move to h.264 today, except that it would break all of those mandated 
receivers. How much would a external  (HDMI) VSB tuner with support for MPEG-2 
and h.264 cost today?

Every new smart TV has everything a broadcaster would need to switch to h.264, 
and much more through the use of an Internet back channel.  But that old 
mandated App is now a sea anchor around broadcasters necks.

> Stop the vague generalities arm-waving, Craig. The history you don't seem to 
> know says it all. The biggest issue with digital broadcast is that compared 
> with the two-way Internet medium, it is very limited in usefulness. So that's 
> what keeps it from taking over other roles, now that the Internet exists. And 
> when you make silly unsubstantiated statements like the one about 19 Mb/s, I 
> can't tell if you're hopelessly uninformed or just intellectually lazy. 
> Explain the tradeoffs of "more than 19 Mb/s." Spend some quality time 
> informing yourself first, before blurting out vague comments like that. (And 
> btw, the ATSC standard also supports 38 Mb/s, in the same 6 MHz channel.)

This is NOT arm waving Bert. 

What is the difference between an Internet IP Multicast and broadcasting. 
Digital Broadcasting is no different than the Internet at the transport level, 
except there is no back channel. That is why the Data broadcast standard A-90 
was even possible. 

More than 19 Mbps is reality; the number for VBB is closer to 21. But signaling 
and transport use bits too, so the payload is a bit more than 19 Mbps. Yes, 
even higher bit rates are possible, but not with those legacy "TV App" 

There is no technical reason why the broadcast spectrum can't be used to become 
another  component of the wireless Internet; broadcasters could even use part 
of the spectrum for a back channel, although this would be ridiculous 
duplication since mobile devices already have this ability. Apparently the 
telcos understand this, as Verizon has just announced Broadcast LTE.

As the saying goes, "Want'n and Get'n are two different things. Broadcasters 
could work together to develop updated VSB compatible receivers now, and work 
with TV manufacturers to make this part of a "Smart TV." 

Why bother. The money is in carriage by the MVPD services. The legacy TV App is 
sufficient to satisfy the MVPD Never's like you Bert.

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