Ntl Hd

Discussion in 'Cable TV & Virgin Media TV' started by zag2me, Oct 23, 2005.

  1. zag2me

    zag2me
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  2. Starburst

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    Similar to the TW model but using mpeg4 which makes a lot more sense than the mpeg2 TW unit.

    Interesting how they will price it and of course when they will actually get round to offering the service. Come to think of it apart from VOD, BBC and EURO1080 what are they going to show in HD? SKY may decide to keep their HD content exclusive especially if NTL/ITV grab some of the Premiership footy:)

    Still, it does make me only 90% sure (down from 100%) that I will never go back to NTL for television:)
     
  3. Stephen Neal

    Stephen Neal
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    Not sure that Sky will be allowed to keep their channels exclusive - I think content and platforms have to be kept slightly separate. For the same reason that Sky have to provide their sports channels in SD to TW/NTL they may have to also provide their HD versions to TW/NTL if TW/NTL operate an HD platform. Otherwise there are monopoly issues at play.
     
  4. Starburst

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    Yeah I understood SKY could not keep their normal premium content off rival operators (but SKY set the price) but since there is no government regulation over HD and it is in essence a seperate service then there may not be a problem. After all there are many instances of channels appearing on one platform and not another although that may be down to commercial issues between content owners and platform operators when they are not one and the same.

    Having said that how long was SKY Sports X kept off of cable and the channels only available via interactive services?
    Not sure but TW still doesn't have SKY MIX.
    It certainly isn't cut and dried:)

    Would like to see what legislation or regulatory pressure existed if anyone has some more info on the subject.
     
  5. Stephen Neal

    Stephen Neal
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    Well when Sky had to bow out of BDB (the precursor to ONDigital which they were partners in prior to launch) for monopoly reasons, they were forced (I believe) to continue to provide (some of) their channels for carriage on ONDigital. I believe that this was partially linked to ONDigital moving in to MarcoPolo house - formerly the home of BSB, and an expensive building that BSkyB still owned (and was only partially being used by QVC)?
     
  6. Rob20

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    Is there a date for an NTL HD roll out?
     
  7. Starburst

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    Nope, not even TW gave a firm date.
    Just like SKY they give you a year, from what I have read NTL are looking at the end of 2006 which gives them time to sort out any problems due to the franchise nature of their company and any issues with merging the TW areas.
    Not only that they have to find the money to buy the STB's which isn't going to be cheap and right now they are not flush with cash.

    Certainly the gap between the hD launch on SKY and NTL isn't going to be in the same league as SKY+ or a full digital network which hopefully puts a lot of pressure on SKY to make their product as attractive as possible.
     
  8. danvitale

    danvitale
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    The TW HD box wont be compatible with Sky's HD broadcast if it hasnt got Mpeg 4....
     
  9. Starburst

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    Cable already recompress some of their feeds already so it's not a huge step to assume they could convert mpeg4 to mpeg2 on the fly using industry standard encoders.
    There is nothing wrong with mpeg2 but surely a short sighted step when large parts of the industry is moving to mpeg4 even those with an existing mpeg2 userbase.
     
  10. MPK

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    Telewest can re-encode HD signals any way they like. They are going with mpeg2 for the moment because they have no bandwidth constraints. TW are the first to move all customers from analog to digital early 2006, which means a huge amount of bandwidth will become available and even with HD and 10mb broadband there will be lots of bandwidth left. I'm sure at some point in the future they will move from mpeg2, but by then it will probably be mpeg5 and Docsis 3.0 :)
     
  11. Stephen Neal

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    Yep - though if TW are decoding Sky MPEG4 and re-encoding to MPEG2 that will cause a significant quality loss, or require a higher bit rate for the MPEG2 links. Concatenation is the worst thing you can do to a compressed signal... The bit rate Sky use for MPEG4 transmission to home is designed as the last point in the chain - if you add another link after it you get quality issues.

    Of course TW may be fed higher data rate versions of the Sky services rather than having to use off-air feeds. In an ideal world they'd get uncompressed versions for encoding themselves. After all Sky are only transmitting in MPEG4 - they aren't producing in it specifically.
     
  12. Rimmer

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    Isn't it the case that Sky branded channels are currently sent direct to NTL/TW at very high bit rates and stat muxed to achieve the best quality?

    If the same practice is followed with Sky HD then there should be no drop in quality between SAT and cable.

    Clearly any channel that is sent at broadcast bit rates and then re-encoded by another broadcaster is going to suffer a quality drop - which I believe is the case with some terrestrial channels?
     
  13. Chris Muriel

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    Spot on. Transcoding effectively requires a helluva lot of processing power and many Processors don't have the wide internal memories and registers on chip that are required to prevent rounding errors. The end result is likely to be either poorer quality or artifacts (or both).

    Chris Muriel, Manchester.
     
  14. Starburst

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    Perhaps those who scan the skys for feeds can give a definite answer but considering SKY have no interest (for economic and practical reasons) in providing better quality feeds to rival broadcasters than they do to their DTH customers I very much doubt it.
     
  15. Brakeinup

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    I am with you on this :)

    I had a nightmare with billing for ntl TV. Put me off for life.

    Well, maybe. I will see what the HD setup has to offer. And competition to SKY HD could mean it will be cheaper to go HD from either company.
     
  16. Pecker

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    There are people who can't get Sky due to obstructions, planning regs, etc. There are those who can't get cable because they're not in a cable area.

    Surely, in the future we'll see NTL/TW & Sky doing what they do now - offering pretty much the same channels, but with slightly different packaging.

    The recent merger of NTL & TW, and the legal decision to not allow one company to hold sole rights to the footie, means that both satellite & cable will have to share almost all their broadcasts if they don't want to anger a large section of their consumers.

    The alternative of (for example) NTL/TW not allowing Sky to have its games, and vice versa would cause an uproar, and possibly government intervention.

    Steve W
     
  17. Stephen Neal

    Stephen Neal
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    The feeds are almost certainly via fibre rather than satellite - so you won't find them by scanning.

    I suspect the reason they provide broadcast rate feeds rather than transmission rate feeds is to ensure their channels DON'T look like junk compared to the other services on cable.

    After all they still get subscription income from the cable subscribers, and advertising revenue so it is in their interest to get decent audience figures.

    If ALL the channels on cable were from Sky, then sure they could get away with delivering dodgy quality feeds, but as they will be compared to other non-Sky services, it is in their interests to keep the quality level high on cable too.

    I would imagine that if NTL/TW get an HD carriage contract for Sky HD channels, then they will expect to get a decent feed rather than relying on off-air de- and re-coding, especially if they are using MPEG2. (Which seems a mad decision)
     
  18. Starburst

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    I think practical experience has shown that PQ has little impact on viewing figures and subscription revenues:)
    Sad but true:(

    I just do not see SKY increasing it's broadcast costs by 100% (perhaps more since I do not know how much fibre distibution costs) by providing cable with ultra high bitrate feeds when in return SKY make no more money from cable subscribers than they do their own DTH subscribers.




    Wouldn't that be making the assumption that other broadcasters (much smaller ones and with less money) would go to the expense of having two distribution chains?
    The PSB's especially with regional content will probably distribute over multipule paths but I think it's a stretch to assume the bulk of the multichannels could afford to do so.




    Do you think SKY would broadcast ALL their HD channels in mpeg2 (thus more than doubling the costs) just to save TW some money?
    As for NTL who will be using H.264 then even if SKY could afford to offer two HD feeds then that would still mean NTL re-encoding the feed or offering HD quality far in access of SKY HD, that would be interesting:)

    If SKY's DTH HD quality is not good enough for NTL then it certainly isn't good enough for those who pay SKY directly and if NTL reduce the bitrates on SKY's DTH broadcasts then that is between them and their customers I would have thought.
     
  19. Stephen Neal

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    Though for HD the rules are slightly different - as the quality IS the selling point.

    What makes you think Sky would pay for the circuits to TW/NTL - it could be that the Cable companies pay for it as part of the carriage deal?

    We're not talking distribution chains, we're talking transmisison chains. It depends where the MPEG2 encoding takes place as to whether they are the same thing or not.

    Fibre distribution isn't THAT expensive - even at 34Mbs or 140Mbs - especially when compared to transponder rental.

    No - I suspect they will distribute using uncompressed fibre. (As is used for contributions from things like football matches etc.) For a point-to-point link this may not be ludicrously expensive. They could use a low-compression scheme I guess - I-frame only MPEG2 for example. This would presumably be a cost picked up by TW/NTL.
    I suspect that if NTL use H264 then they would try and rebroadcast it as broadcast - so not decode and recode unless they have to.

    This is how the cablecos have dealt with BBC services in the past - though they had a problem when the Beeb introduced statmuxing, as the instantaneous bit rate occasionally exceeded the cable capacity.

    I don't think it was a comment about Sky's DTH quality, it was a comment about Sky's DTH signals being decoded and then recoded, that was the trigger. Concatenation can make an acceptable signal look much worse when decoded and recoded.
     
  20. scarty16

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    There hasn't been a LEGAL DECISION forcing Sky's hand on the footie, the fecking EU have interfered in a legal contract entered into by different parties because they don't like the deal (as it doesn't fit their idea of how to distribute footie) They want us to follow an EU model!! The EU have threathened Sky and the Premier league that they will take them to court.

    So EU decide to interfere and footies goes from 5.1 HD back to SD and analogue sound that is a good step forward, well done the EU, worth every penny!!
     
  21. Rimmer

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    Yes - I wasn't suggesting that Sky branded channels look worse on DSAT than on cable!

    I don't pretend to know all the ins and outs of cable distribution and re-encoding, but if you decode say a 4 Mbit/s MPEG-2 stream and re-encode it at a similar bit rate then the re-encoded version will definitely look worse. Sending a higher bit rate feed directly to NTL enables them to match the picture quality on Sky Digital - which is only fair as Sky Sports and Movies are premium services.

    Ideally all cable channels should re-broadcast without re-encoding but this isn't always possible (not sure why).
     
  22. Stephen Neal

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    Not re-encoding may not be a great way of using space if the source transmissions are statmuxed with services not being carried on cable, or the statmux pool/transponder is larger than cable can accommodate in a single mux/RF channel.
     
  23. Starburst

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    No argument in that regard, if HD isn't head and shoulders over SD then the whole platform will fail, that simple fact is the reason I have no doubts SKY will get it right.
    I can't in all honesty say the same about NTL (no experience of TW) who after all have the final say on PQ on the network.

    The question would be what SKY HD channels would cable be interested in and what would SKY offer or be forced to offer.
    Cable have movie contracts which allow for VOD but SKY have the contracts for subscription carriage. It'll be interesting to see how the market for 2 year old + HD movies unfolds, NTL could knock up a half decent channel just showing older movies in HD.



    Well it's either the supplier or the customer and I skewed my comment towards SKY since I have never read about the cable companies nor ON/ITV digital complaining over the cost of receiving the SKY branded content, they have only complained over the cost per subscriber being too high to give them a good profit margin.
    Now you may be right in offering the alternate view, I do not know however if I was NTL/TW paying X amount for uncompressed or high bitrate sports/movies I would broadcast the content at a level that made SKY D look like second rate amateurs and make sure my marketing department made the most of it:)
     

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