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Television Media Technology

No Business Case for HDTV? 525

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the dire-just-means-higher-prices-for-consumers dept.
Lev13than writes "The head of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation argues that there is no business model for HDTV. Speaking at a regulatory hearing being held by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), CBC president Robert Rabinovitch noted that 'There's no evidence either in Canada or the United States that we have found for advertisers willing to pay a premium for a program that's in HD.' In order to cope with infrastructure and programming costs that are roughly 25 per cent higher, Rabinovitch proposes that the CBC start charging cable and satellite companies to carry their signal, and to limit over-the-air transmission. HDTV — good for Best Buy, bad for broadcasters?"
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No Business Case For HDTV?

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  • by TodMinuit (1026042) <todminuitNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday November 27, 2006 @08:29PM (#17010432)
    Canadialand is the Nintendo of countries: Graphics simply do not matter.
    • by creimer (824291) on Monday November 27, 2006 @08:42PM (#17010554) Homepage
      Thank God for that. If it was the Sony of countries, the polar bears would be exploding in HD color.
    • by xQx (5744) on Monday November 27, 2006 @08:55PM (#17010688)
      Having decomissioned my TV a number of years ago in favor of a computer running emule, and now having the free upgrade to BitTorrent that allows me to get my american TV shows add-free 2 weeks ahead of the Australian commercial-infected air-date rather than 1 week ahead.. TV Execs should be asking themselves Is there actually a business case for traditional TV?

      Now, as for HD-TV...

      I just witnessed a 277-run ashes victory against in full SD Digital TV, and the step up from shadowed fuzzy PAL broadcast was unbelievable.

      I can't wait to see us beat the Poms in 1080p full color :) I recon' I'd even pay to see that...

      I wonder how long it'll take the sports ground owners to start sueing broadcasters for loss of revinue because you get a better view of the game at home than you do with 10x binoculars from front-row seats?
      • by kfg (145172) on Monday November 27, 2006 @09:05PM (#17010770)
        I can't wait to see us beat the Poms in 1080p full color :)

        I totally don't know what that means, but I want it.

        KFG
      • by EvilTwinSkippy (112490) <yoda&etoyoc,com> on Monday November 27, 2006 @10:00PM (#17011228) Homepage Journal
        Meh.

        The problem is they'll be recording modern porn at 1080p. I want my old grainy, barely color balanced, and sure as hell not a model porn. Back before they could do all those really raunchy camera angles. Or just stuff shot today in that style.

        Genital shot after genital shot in perfect color gets old after the first 20 seconds. God help us if medical imaging ever advances to the point they could follow Mr. Happy inside for his little trip through the flesh tunnel.
  • no common sense case (Score:5, Interesting)

    by yagu (721525) * <yayagu.gmail@com> on Monday November 27, 2006 @08:29PM (#17010438) Journal

    Good gosh, HDTV would fly by itself if the industry practiced a little common sense about the rollout. I remember in 1998 a sales guy trying to talk me into buying a sexy looking HDTV on demo on the floor. Yeah, I was drooling.

    This unit came sans tuner, and the universe as we know it was still pretty much standard definition tv, i.e., if you could find any HD content, it was for eye candy only, nobody was broadcasting HD anywhere on anything remotely regular.

    I told him I'd wait for the prices to come down, and the for some content to show up -- he shook his finger at me, "These prices [$10,000 for the unit I was looking at] won't come down and might go up! And, there's more and more new HD content available every day"

    Prices went way down (though still way too high) and content eventually showed up. The problem? Way too many ways to set up for HD with way too many ways to find out your setup isn't correct after spending big bucks.

    The minefield that is setting up for HD is too confusing, too expensive, and yeah, if I were an advertiser I'd find it a tough sell to pay any extra for an uncertain market.

    It's too bad, I eventually settled on a Samsung 50" DLP a 2 years ago, absolutely LOVE it, but no thanks to any help I got from anyone anywhere! Freak, even the Comcast HD cable box is still a piece of garbage that regularly freezes, never behaves, and offers a very limited range of HD (not entirely their fault, come on networks!).

    Toss in the confusing choices and still uncertain future of HD on DVD, sheesh, it's a wonder the market is as penetrated as it is.

    Hey, and toss in the $50 HDMI cable lots of people have to buy, they didn't even know about it until "after". Yeah, and what about the almost non-existent HD On Demand (another unfulfilled promise... aside from incredibly poor selection, Comcast's On Demand movies have only a few HD, and all of them (HD and standard) are so compressed, it hurts to watch on a good TV). Oh, and don't forget, or don't forget to plan for, DRM. Don't assume what's true today will still be true by the time you set up your system, but assume if it's not the same it's going to be more restrictive.

    Shit, the more I prattle, the less I like about HD. I'm in as deep as I want for what the market has offered so far, but am not chomping at the byte for any more investment until the industry sorts itself out.

    • by cymen (8178)
      So you're not using OTA at all? OTA HDTV is probably the best bet for semi-decent HDTV. It's still going to be compressed a bit too much as the broadcasters are squeezing in extra SD channels but it's better than cable and DBS.
      • by karnal (22275)
        I would LOVE to get OTA HDTV into my current theater set up - in fact, it's part of the reason I put together a new setup recently.

        My problem is that the set top boxes are all 200$ +. And that's if I want to get one with a warranty. In addition, every review I've read of any available set-top box talks of difficulties changing channels etc...

        I have a PC integrated into the theater, and I may just crumble and get an HD card for it; but I'd much much MUCH rather have a solid set-top box that doesn't have to
          • by karnal (22275)
            Athlon 2600+ (socket A) - Don't think that cuts the requirements, unfortunately:

            Minimum processor recommended:

            2.2 GHz P4 or 1.8 GHz Centrino or equivalent (minimum).
            2.8 GHz processor for analog TV recording with MPEG-2 (minimum).

            It would probably work; however, I still want an independant system. Even though I like using computers as PVRs (Have one doing the job currently) I want this to be simpler.
        • by cayenne8 (626475) on Monday November 27, 2006 @09:14PM (#17010852) Homepage Journal
          "I have a PC integrated into the theater, and I may just crumble and get an HD card for it; but I'd much much MUCH rather have a solid set-top box that doesn't have to rely on the PC being there. For similar reasons, I bought a DVD player for the set-up so I don't have to wait for the PC to power up etc."

          Think of it another way....do the PC, and use it to tune your HD, to play your DVD's and CD's and everything. You could get rid of settop box and cd/dvd player...hell. put MythTv [mythtv.org] on it, and get rid of the TIVO too. Get a wireless card in it..and download all you want from the net onto it...

          Wait for it to power on?? Why would you turn it off? I don't turn off any of my computers around the house.....

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by karnal (22275)
            I'm getting to the age to where I just want things to work; my days of screwing around with computers just for the sake of getting something working on them doesn't thrill me as much as it used to. Hence, I have a computer there to play emulated games on etc; however, I don't want to rely on it for HD stuff.

            I don't have a Tivo. It's a SageTV box (WinXP + Sage) - I haven't felt like spending the time to work with Myth, so I went the Windows route. I do run Linux for my home firewall and file server; but a
    • by DA-MAN (17442) on Monday November 27, 2006 @08:39PM (#17010534) Homepage
      Hey, and toss in the $50 HDMI cable lots of people have to buy

      Digital either works or it doesn't. A five dollar hdmi cable will work as good as the fifty dollar hdmi cable. Monster may help on analog audio, but doesn't do jack for digital.

      This is a myth.
      • by jmv (93421) on Monday November 27, 2006 @08:55PM (#17010692) Homepage
        I see you're not a real connoisseur. My 500$ digital video cable makes the red, green and blue so much richer. It also makes the programs I'm watching subtly more entertaining. You see, that's because the bits are happier when traveling an expensive cable.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Aadain2001 (684036)
        I just did a quick search on Amazon.com (so I by no means have a complete list with prices), shows the first HDMI cable (not a male-to-male or converter) going for around $40. This is not a monster cable, just a no-name brand. The monster cable was $100+.

        My point? HDMI cables cost A LOT, even at the low end. And most stores that I've checked (again, not a complete list) don't care more than one or two brands, usually the $75 to $100 versions.

      • Dirty Lies! (Score:5, Funny)

        by Ahnteis (746045) on Monday November 27, 2006 @09:36PM (#17011046)
        I buy only the very best MONSTER Cat5 cable. Otherwise, my tubes go slow. =(
      • by coaxial (28297) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:16PM (#17011790) Homepage
        Monster may help on analog audio, but doesn't do jack for digital.

        You're wrong. See, back in the analog world we had to contend with "dirty power." Now in the digital world, we have "dirty bytes." The two ideas are related since they both deal with electricity, but subtley different. See the signal can become corrupted when passing through the box, and you know how dirty it is in there. If you don't know, just crack it open and take a look. Anyway the bytes are made up of bits. Eight bits to be precise. Now as the signal passes through the box it picks up some bits of dirt along with the other bits. And when you put the bits together you get a dirty byte that's EIGHT TIMES DIRTIER. Now when these bytes come out of the box and need to be read. But they need cleaned up before they can be read. Just like how you have to blow the dust off an old book to read it. So you see, the $50 hdmi cable cleans the bytes before their processed. If they weren't cleaned before they get processed by the tv, the tv would have to do that causing it to act slower, just like how it's quicker to read a clean book than a dirty book. Still with me? Okay. I know what you're thinking. The dirt from the bytes has to go somewhere, and you know where that is right? That's right. INSIDE THE TV! That what makes digital equipment so dirty on the inside. And since it's so dirty inside the tv, the bytes inside just keep getting dirtier and dirtier. It would be like trying to dust your house in the middle of a sandstorm. Pretty silly huh? So you see, you're not just cleaning the bytes as the come in, but you're really doing preventive maintence to your tv at the same time. Now you could probabably get by with just buying one $50 hdmi, but if you REALLY want to be safe, you should probably change your HDMI every three months, or whenever you change you're programming package. Whichever comes first.

        I know what I'm talking about. I have $100 24k gold plated optical cable, and I can definately see and hear the difference.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by _Ludwig (86077)
        I'm not an audiophile and I'm certainly not sticking up for the likes of Monster Cable here, but when talking about "real-time" data transfer, cable quality can make a difference, even if only up to the point of minimum adequacy. Try this: Listen to streaming IP radio over a normal undamaged cat5e connection, and then listen to the same thing over a raggedy old cable your dog chewed on. Yes, all the bits may eventually reach their destination intact, but there is a time limit for them to get there before
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      My biggest problem with HDTV is that it just means my cable bill is bigger at the end of every month. I already spend $50 on cable TV. I don't think having a High Def picture is worth the extra per month cost. Sure, if I could get a nice TV and be done with it, then maybe I could buy into HDTV, but digital cable has already made my cable bill expensive enough.
      • by timeOday (582209) on Monday November 27, 2006 @09:59PM (#17011226)
        'There's no evidence either in Canada or the United States that we have found for advertisers willing to pay a premium for a program that's in HD.'...

        My biggest problem with HDTV is that it just means my cable bill is bigger at the end of every month.

        I say we will have HDTV, and we will not pay extra for it, any more than we pay a premium for color or stereo. The HD premium will become small enough that competion alone will push it forward. I already have my Cable company calling trying to switch me over to digital but I won't, not if it costs extra. Eventually they'll get sick of paying to maintain the analog system and move me over with little or no premium. That's if I even want cable TV by then. Years ago I never thought I'd escape the phone company, but I switched to VOIP about two years ago and have no intentions of going back.
    • by homer_ca (144738)

      even the Comcast HD cable box is still a piece of garbage that regularly freezes, never behaves, and offers a very limited range of HD

      My off-the-air tuner isn't much better. I bought an ATSC tuner from Radio Shack. It worked fine for a while, getting most local HD channels with just an indoor antenna. It's broken now though. It's stuck on channel 4 and freeze when I try changing the channel. I even unplugged it to clear the memory, but it still remembers it's on channel 4.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pivo (11957)
      For some reason I have no desire for an HDTV. I don't look at my current $200 TV and think that I wish the picture were better, I don't want to spend $1000 or more on a TV, and I think a lot of the "content" I've seen on HDTV looks pixelated and that bothers me. So HDTV doesn't sell itself to me.
  • Or do they not matter in all this?
    • by Salvance (1014001) * on Monday November 27, 2006 @08:38PM (#17010516) Homepage Journal
      That's exactly the problem ... nobody realizes that the consumer is who needs to make the decision

      Another problem is that the television networks are looking for traditional ways to exploit HDTV rather than innovate. It should come as no surprise that advertisers wouldn't pay more for regular commercials during HDTV broadcasts ... a viewer can change the channel in the middle of an HDTV commercial just as easily as any other.

      Broadcasters fail to willingly recognize two driving factors for HDTV:
      • The public now demands it, so they don't really have a choice (other than beg the government to force carriers to give the networks kickbacks)
      • The technology and vastly improved resolution will allow greater integration of programs with the internet. This would allow viewers to seamlessly interact with game shows via a remote, or to purchase clothing that their favorite soap stars might be wearing. Advertisers are willing to pay HUGE sums of money for interactive content and online purchasing.
      Where I do agree with the networks is their argument for dropping traditional HDTV radio wave broadcasts. It's ridiculous for the government to mandate that HDTV be receivable via antenna, let the networks use public demand as a gauge for where and how to best deliver hi-def.
      • by LurkerXXX (667952)
        One thing that should have the advertisers salivating though, is product placement. The much higher resolution of HD makes it easier for viewers to be able to read the label of that box of product X that happens to be sitting on the shelf behind the actors, etc.
    • by creimer (824291)
      Only when they bend down for the privilige.
    • You're right. It is the consumer. For example, the consumer prefers high-quality entertainment, so the TV stations spend more money for better scripts and directors. The consumer wants thier local team to win, so the teams spend more money on talent.

      You could argue that consumers spend more (buying more goods that are advertised or spending more for tickets) and that justifies the expense, but the reverse is as much of a motivator. If you have bad shows or crappy teams, less people are going to waste th
    • by Mr2001 (90979)
      The consumer is waiting for prices to come down, because he can't justify spending a month's pay on a TV set.
  • The entrenched content providers, with their legislatively protected markets, have long rested on their laurels at providing (actually) improved service - as opposed to market-speak improved ("ooh look - 100 more channels of stuff you don't care about but we can charge you more for"). The consumer has a difficult time insisting on improvement in any market when the amount of competition is so lacking - hence the need for regulation to encourage competition and improvement among the entrenched parties.
  • by DannyBoy (12682) on Monday November 27, 2006 @08:33PM (#17010470)
    1) I much prefer to watch HD programming. Especially sports. I will not watch SD football

    2) All of the HDTV I watch is over the air.

    3) I'm still in a bad mood since my local PBS station decided to only broadcast about 4 hours of HD programming each day.

    That said, I'm not saying that HD commands higher ad rates - but it should. Too bad HD programming usually has SD commercials.
    • ...Too bad HD programming usually has SD commercials.

      When I was getting HDTV off air, there were a few instances where the program was SD and some of the commercials aired were HD. If those advertisers spent the extra money to make HD commercials, even if they were shown on SD programs, they must be willing to pay at least some premium for HD.

      Either that, or there was a big mix-up, and the HD commercials were shown during the SD shows, and the SD commercials were shown during the HD shows.

    • by geekoid (135745)
      " I'm not saying that HD commands higher ad rates - but it should"

      Why?
      If an advertiser makes a million dollars from advertising on SD, or a million dollars advertising on HD, why would they want to pay more?

      The picture change is not high enough to attract more customers. When TV went color, that was enough change where your producted advertised in color would get more eyes, and more talk around the cooler, then it made sense to charge more.

      Even broadcasters can not charge more then there market will bear, a
      • by Ucklak (755284)
        ...why would they want to pay more?

        Well, they wouldn't want to pay more, they need to pay more to offset the cost of broadcasting.

        30-40+ years ago, an advertiser could sponsor 30 minutes of airtime just by having the host state the plug for the product or service.

        Your family of concerned parent felt that local celebrities were being created by local businesses and sponsored advertising was creating a monster and untrue product endorsements. This would be your local weatherman issuing a plug for a Chevrolet
    • If ever the phrase 'take your own advice before talking' was something worth following, that time is probably now.
  • by grogdamighty (884570) on Monday November 27, 2006 @08:34PM (#17010478) Homepage
    At this point HDTV's development, it's still a costly technology. It's not an early adopter device any more, but it hasn't even come close to reaching critical mass in the general populace yet. Despite this, it's very clear where the future of technology is, and any television station that waits till HDTV is the standard will pay for that in lost revenue in the future.

    Not going HD would be like cable companies saying "No need for us to build high speed infrastructure - everybody likes dial-up."

    • Great point (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @01:58AM (#17012804) Homepage Journal
      >It's not an early adopter device any more, but it hasn't even come close to reaching critical mass in the general populace yet.

      There's a marketing book that's worth reading, and it's about this exact situation. Products do not move smoothly from early adopters to early majority. There's a pit in between the two that many products fall into.

      The book, "Crossing the Chasm", explains that you have to make the transition to your new product as smooth and slick as teflon on teflon, or normal people will never generate good word of mouth. An example of a brilliant success at this is the Toyota Prius, which spends a significant amount of software simulating the artifacts of a 20th-century car, just to allow buyers to slide right into it without an adjustment.

      If the HD industry were poised for success you'd see plug-and-play installations that didn't require setup by a consultant, no obstructive DRM, and standardized cabling.
  • What is important is money for big corporations.

    Why should we use television technology that hasn't been updated in over half a century?

    Sure I can watch sports in the current non-HD and like it but I like it more in HD. I would still watch whether it's HD or not though so of course the networks can't charge advertisers more. Suck it up and improve your equipment because if TV looks better won't consumers possibly watch MORE?
  • The number of people who actually watch tv is falling [slashdot.org]. Thanks to the internet, we don't need tv, so why would we need HDTV?
    • by creimer (824291)
      Because no one told the marketing department that the TV is dead, dead and dead. Besides, you don't want all those Canadian TV people holding a "Will work for food!" sign on the American border?
  • People will pay a heck of a lot more for HDTV sets. The main benefit of having an HD set is the ability to watch HD programming at full resolution. Therefore, people are willing to pay more to watch HD programming.
    • Given the draconian methods of the FCC, I'd be damned happy with a SD set and an ATSC tuner in 13" or less at a $99 price point.
    • by misleb (129952) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:18PM (#17011800)
      I dunno, I sometimes wonder if most people even care. I've seen far too many people watch SD programming all stretched out on their new wide screen TV to believe that they actually give a shit about extra resolution. They just go to the store and buy whatever teh salesman is pushing that day. Nothing too expensive, mind you, but nothing too cheap (SD) either. They pay extra for the illusion of higher quality and then go home and set their TV to stretch an SD picture to fit the 16:9 screen... like they dont' even notice that it is distorted! WTF?

      -matthew
  • by swschrad (312009) on Monday November 27, 2006 @08:43PM (#17010560) Homepage Journal
    RCA pushed it because they could. that's what RCA did in those days, late 30s and post-war and the early 50s.

    HDTV is the same thing. the manufacturers have an interest. it's a paradigm shift for broadcasters, and it will cannabilize their existing businesses, just like TV did, and color TV was just a gawd-awful money eater for stations in the 1960s.

    but the FCC wants to sell those juicy frequencies near the cell phone bands, and congress spent the money a thousand times over, so your present TV system (NTSC, PAL, SECAM, doesn't matter) is headed down the dumper for HDTV versions.

    that's how the future works. you can go into your back room and play your edison cylinders now... at least, the ones that aren't all fuzzy black mold by now. most folks eventually fall for pretty pictures and better sounds.
  • Whinge whinge whinge (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bernywork (57298) * <bstapleton@@@gmail...com> on Monday November 27, 2006 @08:44PM (#17010576) Journal
    Yep, fair call, nobody wants to pay more for it, suprise suprise suprise.

    Do it the way that everyone else does it when they are financially constrained, buy HD when the life cycles end. So the cameras and other stuff that CBC would normally replace every 2 years (Provided they act like the other TV stations I know), go HD then. The video editing suite, that will eventually need to be upgraded (Usually happens every 4 - 5 years), do it then. Most people that do digital content creation pay for themselves (Make a profit) anyway, so just tell them they need to HD and then go back to playing golf.

    Yes, there are financial constraints to going HD, but then there are financial constraints to running a business too. Over the next few years everyone else will be replacing kit, and they will be buying HD which means that sooner or later, everything that CBC gets given for broadcast is going to be HD.

    25%, quite possibly now, that's fine, but in the future, everything is going to be HD and CBC aren't going to have an option as few people will be providing SD equipment to purchase. IF it's there, it will cost more money and won't be standard with the rest of the kit.

    Really, this is a null and void arguement that they make that everyone else is going through.

    Upgrading kit and increasing the quality of the standard broadcast costs a LOT of money, I know this all too well. Considering however that a major overhaul like this hasn't gone through the industry for 30 years in most countries, the amount of expenditure up front to move now is scaring people. It's the same with Vista and Office 2007 and everything else.

  • There may well be no business model at present for HD Broadcasting, since few advertisers would want to pay the premium to advertise their crap.

    But, it will not be broadcasters and advertisers that drive demand. The demand will come from consumers who want to watch their favorite TV shows in HD.

    Now, it is entirely possible that even this sort of demand still wont quite be enough to justify the current sort of business model. That does not mean some new business model will come about which will allow those
  • Not "bad for broadcasters," just a necessary change. Sure, they could stick with SD equipment for a while, but if they do, other companies will come in and replace them. They may think they can't afford HD, but what they really can't afford is to stay SD. It's no different from the change from B&W to color 50 years ago.

    Now it may be true that the advertisers are not willing to pay a premium to air on HD channels or during HD broadcasts, however it is certainly true that they will pay more to reach mo
  • Idiot (Score:3, Interesting)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Monday November 27, 2006 @08:52PM (#17010648)
    What a pantload this guy is. Sales of HDTV's to consumer illustrate quite strongly that they are willing to pay for HD content. People like me who have HDTV's avoid watching SD because of the poor picture quality.

    Many cable and stellite companies charge extra for HD channels - and people pay up. So if he wants to charge delivery companies extra for HD programming, well there is your friggen business case, on a silver platter.

    DOH.
  • seriously, the business case for broadcasters is to get HD or die! I'm sitting watching HD Fox right now, and it BLOWS AWAY any satellite I've seen. Even SD digital broadcasts are 200% clearer than analog... better than my standard definition satellite. One of my local stations runs a 24 hour weather channel as their sideband...that will be GREAT when the snowstorms start. Another runs CW as it's sideband... a first without cable. If broadcasters DON'T upgrade their 50 year-old tech then they will be l
  • "There's no evidence either in Canada or the United States that we have found for advertisers willing to pay a premium for a program that's in HD," Mr. Rabinovich said. "So basically they're saying if you want to shoot in HD, that's your business, we're not going to pay you more."

    I was going to blast this guy for not understanding the economics of... well... any sort of competition really. The reason to go HD is to appeal to consumers, because advertisers will pay more if you've captured more of the market

  • When is our government going to figure out that what is best for big business is not necessarily best for THE PEOPLE OF THEIR COUNTRY!

    If safety was left to the "market" cars would not have air-bags, seat-belts, crumple zones, and average fuel economy would be around 9 MPG.

    It's time the US government started treating all communications (data, voice, broadcast) like roads. Make them a vital part of our infrastructure and let private companies compete to provide services to the public. (Just like private com
  • Am I the only one who would rather have higher quality content than a higher quality picture? Other than sports, I'm really not interested in paying a premium so I can watch the same crap except now I get to see all the facial blemishes of the talent.
  • Here in the USA, most (all?) cable providers that provide HD locals provide them in the clear, and any tuner that supports QAM can decode them (many new TVs, probably the TiVo Series 3, some PCI/USB tuners). There's no need for paying for digital cable if you want the locals in high definition and have the proper equipment.

    Of course, digital cable will get you more HD channels.

    I have noticed an increase in ads in HD in the past month or so. At one point it was common to see a few during an hour of prime t
  • by Orestesx (629343) on Monday November 27, 2006 @09:10PM (#17010824)
    Show me a major network that refuses to broadcast in HD and I will show you a network that will be irrelevant in 5 years.
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Monday November 27, 2006 @09:16PM (#17010864) Homepage
    An improved technology isn't going to take off unless the _average_ consumer, buying _average_ equipment, and setting it up without special expertise, gets results that are so dramatic that everyone who sees it says "Wow!"

    Color TV was that way, even with all the problems initially. Circa 1960, color TVs were fabulously expensive, persnickety, tricky to set up, had to be set up again if you moved them to a different location within the house, were tricky to tune, tended to shift color from one program to another, etc. But if you had a friend who was rich enough to afford one, you took one look at it and you said "Wow! I wannit I wannit I wannit!" So what if Dinah Shore's face changed from greenish to magentaish as she walked across the stage?

    Of course, it didn't really take off until prices came down and they had solid-state circuits that didn't drift and could fudge the colors a bit so that anything close to flesh was displayed as flesh...

    Technologies that are only impressive under good conditions usually fail. Right now, that's the state HDTV is in.
  • Dinosaur marketing executives claim there is "no business model" in climbing out of the la brea tar pits.

    Right. Let's see how long they survive without HDTV... Advertisers pay per eyeball, not depending on the medium. Getting enough eyeballs is up to the broadcaster. Presumably HDTV helps with that at some point.

    Expecting advertisers to *pay extra* for HDTV commercials is a little like expecting customers to pay full price for copies they don't own... Oh wait I guess this'll fly after all. Hello DMCA
  • Of course it's bad for broaddcasters. It's a disruptive technology... their heavy investments in NTSC cameras, editing suites and broadcast equipment is now obsolete, and it will cost a 25% premium over NTSC to upgrade to the new stuff. The competition for ad dollars is fiercer than it has ever been, with literally hundreds of channels... and advertisers are unlikely to shell out a 25% premium to advertise on HDTV broadcasts when they can use that money to buy a couple of slots on Animal Planet at 2:00am.

    Th
  • by Nicky G (859089) on Monday November 27, 2006 @09:29PM (#17010986)
    I make my living selling editing and post workstations (and associated systems, such as SANs). Many/most of the systems I sell are capable of handling HD content (mostly Apple Final Cut-based solutions), and many of my sales are into the broadcast space. So, I think I have a good sense of this stuff.

    HD is happening, and the adoption rate both for consumers, content creators, and broadcasters is accelerating. I have seen MUCH acceleration in 2006, and I think 2007 will be the year HD really takes command of the market. Let me put it this way -- perhaps the SUITS at broadcast organizations can't find a case for HD. But I will tell you this -- the engineers, editors, etc. are VERY MUCH ready for HD, and know it is happening, and there's no looking back. This isn't really up for debate, it's the fact of the matter.

    What I find a little strange about this guy's comments is that he's basically trying to justify keeping a 50-year-old broadcast standard, well into the 21st century. Let's think about that for a moment -- what would have happened if the computer industry had decided to stay with, say, the standards that were in place for computing in the 1950s, through today. Yeeeaaaah... As bizarre as this scenario sounds, this is the reality that the broadcast market has perpetuated for the last 50 years or so. I would think that consumers would be demanding a much quicker adoption of HD! Oh, so you need to buy a new TeeVee set? Me cry you a river. That's like saying I should be forced to use a building-sized supercomputer that runs on punchcards to handle basic arithmetic problems, just because you don't feel you should need to upgrade your computer. But it's even more ridiculous than that, because we tolerate "needing" to buy a new computer every 5 years or so, but sheesh, needing to upgrade your TV once per fifty years? IT'S A TRAVESTY!

    And on another note -- if those idiots can't command higher ad rates for HD advertisements, well, please fire them and hire me to do your HD advertising sales, because your current ad sales team SUCKS and is not worth what you're paying them. I am pretty certain I could do a better job myself. And I'm not just throwing that out there -- again, I make my living largely "selling" video content producers on HD.

    Finally, another interesting debate/issue concerns the video/post/broadcast world's move to tapeless workflows, where you are essentially recording video _files_ right onto flash RAM/hard drives/optical discs/SANs/etc. And video tapes go the way of the dodo. This is another HUGE shift in the broadcast market, which is only recently incorporating "IT technologies" into the systems that drive broadcast facilities. A lot of broadcasters are going to go for "two for the price of one" -- let's go tapeless, and let's make sure our upgrades are HD-capable at least.

    OK OK, one laaast point -- anyone who doesn't feel HD is a worthwhile upgrade SERIOUSLY needs to get their eyes checked. I recommend doing an A/B comparison between SD and HD, of the same content. HD is only truly profound when you _go back_ to SD, and you ask yourself, how the hell did I deal with this shit for so long? BRING ON MORE HD!!!

    • by coaxial (28297) on Monday November 27, 2006 @10:55PM (#17011638) Homepage
      OK OK, one laaast point -- anyone who doesn't feel HD is a worthwhile upgrade SERIOUSLY needs to get their eyes checked. I recommend doing an A/B comparison between SD and HD, of the same content. HD is only truly profound when you _go back_ to SD, and you ask yourself, how the hell did I deal with this shit for so long? BRING ON MORE HD!!!

      I've done just that, and I still just don't see the point. Sure you MIGHT be able to see a bit more blades of grass, but big deal. The benefit just isn't there. This IS NOT a black-and-white to color revolution like it's been made out to be. The difference between HD and SD isn't nearly as large as the HD industry, which you are a part of, would have us believe. If such a difference did exist, the why do 50% of HDTV owners think their watching HD content, when they're not? [slashdot.org] I'll tell you. Self delusion. ("I paid $8,000 for super clear tv, and by god it is!")

      It's hype. Successful hype mind you, but still just hype. If was as big a deal it's being made out to be, then the corporations wouldn't of needed the power of legislation to coerce the public into an upgrade. The public would be upgrading voluntarily. The fact that HDTV conversion has been so slow, and sales of HD channels lethargic so far is indicitive that there's little to no demand. I'm sure you're seeing a ramp in sales of HD equipment, now, but it's not because of some sort of spontaneous demand. It's the fact that government is banning analog. The deadline is looming, and panic is setting in. If you didn't have Uncle Sam as your salesman, you'd still be trying to move box 1.

      The way this HDTV conversion is going down smells. And as a capitalist, it's disturbing. It's command economy meets the oligarchy.

      The fact that you make your living selling HD equipment and now you're telling everyone to upgrade makes you're opinion circumspect. That isn't meant to imply that you're being intensionally dishonest. Frankly, I think you merely drank your own kool-aid. Just like those HDTV owners, that can't even tell their not watch HD content.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday November 27, 2006 @09:32PM (#17011016) Homepage Journal
    It's not the HD programs that make the bizcase. What makes the bizcase are ever more giant TVs. Which need HD so they don't look crappy when you sit right in front of them. Which therefore need HD programs. Which advertisers will advertise on, because anyone living by the rule "do whatever your mother warned you never to do" is the ideal target market for any product.

    Damn socialist Canadians, with their sanity. Their country needs bigger TVs, just to make it look full and warm it up. Where else are the black squirrels supposed to hide when American tourists and Japanese hunters come looking for them as the ice melts?
  • by NineNine (235196) on Monday November 27, 2006 @09:44PM (#17011122)
    Another thing that I think that the TV industry is ignoring are the rapidly growing number of -zero- TV households. I didn't know anybody without a TV 10 years ago. Now, I don't know anybody who watches TV (broadcast, cable, or otherwise) except my parents. I know that that may be pretty unusual right now, but it was completely unheard of not too long ago. The slow uptake of HDTV in the US may have something to do with a silent but growing number of people who simply won't buy another TV again... ever.
  • Chicken and egg (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sparohok (318277) on Monday November 27, 2006 @09:45PM (#17011134)
    HDTV is a classic case of chicken and egg. Without an installed base, the industry has no incentive to produce and broadcast HD content. Without content, on the other hand, there will be no installed base. You can't blame the broadcasters for following their financial incentives, any more than you can blame consumers for rejecting high priced HDTV hardware on which they had nothing to watch.

    Fortunately, broadcasters, unlike consumers, are beholden to federal regulators and can be coerced. The FCC saw this chicken-and-egg problem coming and mandated terrestrial broadcast of HD content in the US. The Canadians should do the same. If you broadcast SD, you have to broadcast HD as well.

    Anyway, none of this matters anymore. HDTV is finally a done deal. Between the US tuner mandate, HD capable enabled game consoles, and the price trajectory of LCD flat panels, consumer adoption of HDTV is unstoppable. Advertisers and broadcasters will be dragged along soon enough.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by meta-monkey (321000)
      mandated terrestrial broadcast of HD content in the US

      No, they mandated digital broadcasting, not HD broadcasting. You can get your SD channels over the air digitally. This had nothing to do with promoting new technology and better TV picture quality for consumers, and everything to do with reducing bandwidth consumption so they could sell off the old analog spectrum. This was not an altuistic move on the part of the FCC.

      Not that I'm complaining, of course. I love my HDTV.
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday November 27, 2006 @09:46PM (#17011146) Homepage
    A few stations and big networks tried that with Comcast. They instantly dropped the channels COUNTRY WIDE with a channel in place with text that said "**CHANNELNAME** is trying to charge you to watch their content and their commercials. call X-XXX-XXX-XXXX and let them know how you feel.

    it lasted one day. Several local channels tried it 5 years ago and bent over instantly when they had their plug pulled with a warning message on the channel. Discovery tried it to comcast 3 years ago as well and gave up 2 days later.

    CBC has no chance, if they start charging, they get dropped and then they wither away. Boo hoo that the studios have to upgrade their technology from 20 year old hardware and that the customers think they shouldn't pay more for it.
  • by optimus2861 (760680) on Monday November 27, 2006 @09:48PM (#17011162)
    Take the source into consideration: CBC is the publically-funded national broadcast network of Canada, and its ratings are the pits across the board. Its one cash cow (and only real HDTV-showoff program), Hockey Night in Canada, is rumoured to be headed to private networks CTV and TSN next season. Conservatives are in power federally, and consider the CBC an adversary. Add it all up, and the CBC is staring at a cash crunch in the near future. They won't have the money to upgrade much of their programming to HDTV, so they blow smoke to the regulator that there's no business case for it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JFMulder (59706)
      On the other hand, you have the SRC, the french counterpart of CBC. I've been watching HD shows for a year a half now, original programming, no dubbed stuff from the United States. And quality programming. It may not rank as high as TVA 's offerings (I view TVA as Quebec's FOX), but the quality of the content and the HD picture (with 5.1 surround, something a lot of HD shows in the States seem to lack, or maybe my provider is dropping the 5.1 on Prison Break and Heroes) make SRC the best offering for a TV v

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