[opendtv] Re: Nielsen stats on TV in US households

  • From: "Albert Manfredi" <bert22306@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 24 Mar 2007 18:44:52 -0400

Tom Barry wrote:

I believe there are at least 5 different related TV technology shifts going
on simultaneously now and we tend to confuse them a bit.

1) A shift to digital TV.

2) A shift to HDTV, or at least higher resolution, highly related to digital
but not the same thing as it is the part driven by newer (rapidly
cheaper) display technology instead of delivery technology.

I think the shift to HD is for the most part a shift to flat panel displays. People are after the flatness and large screen sizes, not necessarily for HD quality initially. And then, oh wow look how nice the image is when I tune into an HD station. That's why this trend is also occurring in Europe, and that's why their decision to begin SD-only for DTT broadcasting is now coming back to haunt them.

3) A shift to cable and satellite.

4) A shift to multiple tuner PVR type viewing, either guide driven timer
recording or by waiting a few minutes once in awhile to generate some
'Tivo slack' around the commercials.

5) A shift to everybody needing broadband for other purposes, even if
they have no desire to watch movies that way. (and the associated
cable TV bundling)

[ ... ]

I also believe that once you go Tivo you never go back to only real
time viewing. However Tivo DTT is no longer really competitive with
cable since for the monthly cost of the guide you can instead rent a
cable PVR most places.

I've never gone back to real-time viewing since way before any TiVo showed up, and I certainly don't need any TiVo EPG subscription to record shows. So I don't see anything uncompetitive about DTT recording wrt cable or DBS, except for the same old reason of much less program choice.

Actually, the (apparently) universal notion that to do time-shift recording requires a TiVo subscription is just another manfestation of the ease with which the US consumer can be made to spend money in what I would call a frivolous manner. Which is what goes to the detriment of DTT.

Finally, the cable companies are pricing broadband so there is very little
extra cost to include basic cable. Since this package also can give
always-on Internet access I'm a little surprised there are not more (any?)
QAM capable non-cablecard PVR's on the market that could use free
services like Zap2it for the PVR guide and get only the basic cable tier
without the cable box but in highdef for marginal cost.

Two comments on this last point:

a. I continue to be surprised that such boxes, combined with OTA capability, are hardly ever available. And if they are, are NEVER promoted, not in ads, not in store. In principle, the stations' own EPG should work perfectly well in this type of box, if stations spent a teeny amount of effort with their PSIP, that is. (There was a Sony DTT PVR sold from back in 2004, which also recorded HDTV, and with no subscription fees. Anyone heard about that one? If not, why not?)

b. If, as you say, "the cable companies are pricing broadband so there is very little extra cost to include basic cable," it seems clear that the broadcasters are not getting anywhere close to the amount of payment that the cable companies are contnually screaming about. Either that, or the price of broadband is very inflated.

I may be over generalizing from my own experience but it seems each
rosy path above tends to lead away from DTT here in the USA.

I generally agree with all your points, and can therefore only surmise that these same trends will affect all other countries where DTT seems so successful today. In your logic, I see no undue reliance on issues with modulation or government regs. Only market forces and people's willingness to spend money. If anything, the trend to HD, and its consequence on spectral efficiencies, will conspire to make DTT reception somewhat more difficult.


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