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Another Article About Sky's HDTV



 
 
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  #1  
Old March 7th 05, 01:34 PM
DAB sounds worse than FM
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Default Another Article About Sky's HDTV

http://media.guardian.co.uk/mediagua...431749,00.html

Vision of the future

BSkyB is banking on customers paying more for better sound and picture
quality. Owen Gibson explains

Monday March 7, 2005
The Guardian

While the rest of the broadcasting world was digesting the contents of
the government's BBC green paper on Wednesday, BSkyB was unveiling its
own vision of the future of TV that could have equally profound
ramifications. In the same way that music fans have down the years got
used to forking out for better quality formats and more convenience,
from vinyl to CDs to digital downloads, now the visual medium is trying
the same trick.

Richard Freudenstein, BSkyB's chief operating officer, last week told
the DVB World conference in Ireland that the company remained on track
to launch high-definition TV (HDTV) next year. The pay-TV giant is
betting big on the fact that as the country moves to a fully digital
broadcasting environment, customers will be happy to shell out not just
for more television but for better quality picture and sound.

When the launch was announced last year, it was overshadowed by the
simultaneous confirmation that Sky would introduce a FreeSat service,
offering 200 channels without subscription to compete with Freeview.
"For us at Sky, that was a shame. Internally, we were of the view that,
of the two initiatives, HDTV was of greater significance and would have
more far-reaching consequences in the long term," said Freudenstein. "I
still believe that is the case, even though free digital television and
analogue switch-off continue to make bigger headlines."

The technology that is getting Sky executives and technophiles excited
has been around in various forms for a while, but only now, with the
mass consumer take-up of digital television and advances in compression,
has it become economically viable for broadcasters and programme-makers
to think about launching the format.

Brian Sullivan, director of customer products and services at BSkyB,
says: "It's a completely different visual experience. The sharpness and
clarity of the picture is almost jarring in how much better it looks."
It is generally argued that HDTV broadcasts are four times better
quality than standard definition pictures. Sullivan believes it is the
biggest step change since the introduction of digital TV in 1995, which
he points to as proof that people will upgrade as much for the quality
of their picture as for the movies, sport and extra channels available.
"The first two or three years after the launch of Sky Digital, we
tracked our customers constantly and almost every time, they said the
quality of the picture and sound was one of the top reasons for
subscribing. That's why people continued to come to Sky, it's what took
us from 3.5 million to 7.5 million," he says.

The one rather large hitch in this grand vision is that subscribers will
have to splash out on a new television to take advantage. But Sky points
out that with the upsurge of interest in DVD and home cinema, we are in
the middle of a "natural replacement cycle" that will only accelerate as
we move towards digital switchover.

A quick trip to any high-street electronics retailer will confirm that
TVs are getting bigger and flatter, with high-end plasma and LCD
displays flying off the shelves. At present, only 420,000 HDTV
compatible plasma sets are in living rooms around the country, but
Freudenstein last week confidently predicted this would rise to two
million by the end of next year, adding: "We estimate the majority of UK
households will have at least one high-definition screen by 2010."

BSkyB is backing its HDTV gamble with hard cash. When its chief
executive, James Murdoch, announced last year that the company was
spending 300m on upgrading facilities, many scratched their heads over
how many pot plants that sort of money would buy. Now, it is clear that
a big chunk will be devoted to the launch of HDTV. Studios and outside
broadcast trucks are being kitted out and HDTV set-top boxes are about
to go into production. The company is preparing to broadcast shows for
which the benefits will be most apparent - sport, movies, natural
history documentaries - in the new format from the off. Sullivan says it
has yet to decide a pricing strategy.

The BBC has promised to make all its shows high definition by 2010. A
spokeswoman says that, while a decision has yet to be taken on whether
to transmit all its channels in the format, it will begin to experiment
as soon as Sky launches its service. The forthcoming disaster
documentary Supervolcano was filmed in HDTV, as is the new dramatisation
of Dickens's Bleak House. ITV and C4 are yet to reveal their HDTV plans
but are also likely to start producing some programmes in the format
soon. Most imports from the US, where the format is already taking off,
are compatible. Last week, Freudenstein predicted that the 2008 Olympics
or even next year's World Cup could provide the tipping point when HDTV
moves from early adoption to mass acceptance.

Amid all the hi-tech mumbo jumbo, it is clear that HDTV represents a
crucial flank in Sky's ongoing battle to persuade existing customers to
pay more for premium services and convince those so far immune to its
charms to succumb. "It is an unfounded but nonetheless real perception
that pay-TV represents quantity over quality," said Freudenstein. "Those
discerning customers are precisely the audience that is likely to be
interested in a high-end proposition that focuses on the quality of the
content and the viewing experience." The theory being that, as Sky
starts to sell more low-end packages to families it will also wring more
cash out of premium subscribers with HDTV, Sky Plus, multi-room and
other innovations. HDTV will also be a crucial differentiator for Sky
from Freeview - the bandwidth available on the digital terrestrial
service will not support many high-definition channels. Even Greg Dyke,
the former director general who launched Freeview as a bulwark for the
BBC against Sky in the digital age, said recently that it may find it
hard to compete once HDTV comes along.

The move is a calculated risk for Sky, but given its track record for
gambling and winning, few would be willing to bet against Freudenstein's
prediction that we will all be watching pin-sharp pictures by the end of
the decade.


--
Steve - www.digitalradiotech.co.uk - Digital Radio News & Info

Find the cheapest Freeview, DAB & MP3 Player Prices:
http://www.digitalradiotech.co.uk/fr..._receivers.htm
http://www.digitalradiotech.co.uk/da...tal_radios.htm
http://www.digitalradiotech.co.uk/mp...rs_1GB-5GB.htm
http://www.digitalradiotech.co.uk/mp...e_capacity.htm


  #2  
Old March 7th 05, 01:40 PM
loz
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"DAB sounds worse than FM" wrote in message
...
At present, only 420,000 HDTV compatible plasma sets are in living rooms
around the country


I would be surprised if it is that high in terms of both genuine HD
resolution AND HDCP compliance.

Loz



  #3  
Old March 7th 05, 06:11 PM
Ben
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DAB sounds worse than FM wrote:
Freudenstein last week confidently predicted this would rise to two
million by the end of next year, adding: "We estimate the majority of UK
households will have at least one high-definition screen by 2010."


Nice to hear someone being optimistic about HDTV for a change, even if
it is Sky.
  #4  
Old March 7th 05, 06:19 PM
Clem Dye
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Ben wrote:
DAB sounds worse than FM wrote:

Freudenstein last week confidently predicted this would rise to two
million by the end of next year, adding: "We estimate the majority of
UK households will have at least one high-definition screen by 2010."



Nice to hear someone being optimistic about HDTV for a change, even if
it is Sky.


They're only interested because it offers them another/greater revenue
stream - if it didn't, they wouldn't bother. Just look how long it took
to get a semblance of widescreen programming on $kyOne - they played
catch-up with the likes of the BBC & C4 there.

The only real plus point as I see it is that it will act as a driver to
bring HDTV to the masses. Even if $ky do launch it in 2006 it will be
several years before it gets to be viable for the mass market.

Hmmmm - HDTV adverts and other stuff with odd bits of programmes thrown
in for good measure - I can hardly wait. Will HDTV improve my red dot
experience, I wonder?


Clem
  #5  
Old March 7th 05, 06:42 PM
loz
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"Clem Dye" wrote in message
...

Hmmmm - HDTV adverts and other stuff with odd bits of programmes thrown in
for good measure - I can hardly wait. Will HDTV improve my red dot
experience, I wonder?


Yes - you will now have a high definition red dot. This will allow for
better shading and colour, enabling the red dot to look more like a real
button. Even better, it will allow the dot to feature text and moving
graphics. Planners are considering increasing the size of the dot so that it
is more useful to viewers, for example the dot may in future contain
adverts, what's next previews, and due to the increased size and resolution
will be able to feature "dot in a dot", whereby you will be able to see
whether the next program itself will have a red dot so that it builds
excitement about the coming interactive opportunities in the next program
giving viewers an incentive to stay tuned.

This will be complimented by HD DOGS which will now effectively become
picture in picture features whereby the whole of the next program (or
whatever is being promoted) will be played within the HD DOG. In true PIP
style, viewers will be able to swap the PIP and instead of watching the main
programme, just watch the HD DOG instead.

A spokesman for BSkyB said "we are excited by the opportunities the
increased screen space HD resolution provides us. With the extra space we
will be able to compliment SD programmes with much more useful content for
the customer. For example, we will be able to run adverts alongside the
program without having to reduce the resolution of the SD programme. It also
gives us new programming opportunities, with reality programmes such as
Watching Paint Dry now presented in multiple camera angles simultaneously on
screen.

Don't say you haven't been warned....

Loz


  #6  
Old March 8th 05, 12:27 AM
Aztech
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"Ben" wrote in message
...
DAB sounds worse than FM wrote:
Freudenstein last week confidently predicted this would rise to two million
by the end of next year, adding: "We estimate the majority of UK households
will have at least one high-definition screen by 2010."


Nice to hear someone being optimistic about HDTV for a change, even if it is
Sky.


It's a well written article and well researched, are things changing at Media
Guardian?


  #7  
Old March 12th 05, 12:27 PM
Stephen Neal
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"Ben" wrote in message
...
DAB sounds worse than FM wrote:
Freudenstein last week confidently predicted this would rise to two
million by the end of next year, adding: "We estimate the majority of UK
households will have at least one high-definition screen by 2010."


Nice to hear someone being optimistic about HDTV for a change, even if it
is Sky.


Well HDTV is the next thing that Sky can offer on Satellite, but Freeview
can't offer on DVB-T (yet). With Freeview uptake expected to top 8million
boxes by the end of this year, overtaking the number of Sky receivers (or is
it Sky subscribers?) - and channels on Freeview AND satellite/cable doing
pretty well in the digital ratings compared to those only on
satellite/cable - Sky need something else to continue to drive new
subscriptions and/or increase in revenue per subscriber...

Steve


  #8  
Old March 12th 05, 01:27 PM
DAB sounds worse than FM
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Default

Stephen Neal wrote:
"Ben" wrote in message
...
DAB sounds worse than FM wrote:
Freudenstein last week confidently predicted this would rise to two
million by the end of next year, adding: "We estimate the majority
of UK households will have at least one high-definition screen by
2010."


Nice to hear someone being optimistic about HDTV for a change, even
if it is Sky.


Well HDTV is the next thing that Sky can offer on Satellite, but
Freeview can't offer on DVB-T (yet). With Freeview uptake expected
to top 8million boxes by the end of this year, overtaking the number
of Sky receivers (or is it Sky subscribers?)



Here's the story:

http://media.guardian.co.uk/broadcas...352673,00.html

and that story sprung from a BBC Press Release, IIRC.

It's always struck me that the BBC (and Ofcom) overestimates the number
of new homes with Freeview for a given number of Freeview box sales.
They say that they use a complex formula to work out the number of new
homes, but the percentage of new homes is very high relative to sales,
and if you look on Digital Spy, Freeview seems to be popular with
teenagers, who I'd imagine have a set-top box in their bedrooms, and I
think that a lot of homes convert all or most of their TVs to Freeview,
which would lower the number of sales to new homes ratio.


- and channels on
Freeview AND satellite/cable doing pretty well in the digital ratings
compared to those only on satellite/cable - Sky need something else
to continue to drive new subscriptions and/or increase in revenue per
subscriber...



I wish the BBC would hurry up and launch Freesat, with or without ITV
(but with a card slot in case ITV want to simulcrypt). If ITV wants to
stay encrypted on Sky then let the fools watch their audiences continue
to plummet and become an irrelevant player apart from the fact they've
got Coronation St.


--
Steve - www.digitalradiotech.co.uk - Digital Radio News & Info

Find the cheapest Freeview, DAB & MP3 Player Prices:
http://www.digitalradiotech.co.uk/fr..._receivers.htm
http://www.digitalradiotech.co.uk/da...tal_radios.htm
http://www.digitalradiotech.co.uk/mp...rs_1GB-5GB.htm
http://www.digitalradiotech.co.uk/mp...e_capacity.htm


  #9  
Old March 13th 05, 07:51 AM
Jomtien
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Stephen Neal wrote:

Well HDTV is the next thing that Sky can offer on Satellite, but Freeview
can't offer on DVB-T (yet). With Freeview uptake expected to top 8million
boxes by the end of this year, overtaking the number of Sky receivers (or is
it Sky subscribers?)


The figure refers to subscriptions, not boxes or subscribers.
There are many more boxes being used for FTV only.

The launch of HDTV on DSAT could be the opportunity for the FTV
channels to escape from Sky's clutches. New boxes will be needed and
these could all be required to have CAM slots and/or removable Sky
CAMs. The possibility of dual-encryption is wide open.

Has Ofcom done anything to encourage this? My eye.

--
Digibox problem? : A reboot solves 90% of these.
The Sky Digital FAQ: http://tinyurl.com/6u4p9
How to get UK TV overseas: http://tinyurl.com/6p73
Fed up with logos / red buttons? : http://logofreetv.org/
BBC gone? : http://www.astra2d.co.uk/
----
Only the truth as I see it.
No monies return'd. ;-)
  #10  
Old March 13th 05, 08:51 AM
Dave Fawthrop
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On Sun, 13 Mar 2005 08:51:31 +0100, Jomtien wrote:


| The launch of HDTV on DSAT could be the opportunity for the FTV
| channels to escape from Sky's clutches. New boxes will be needed and
| these could all be required to have CAM slots and/or removable Sky
| CAMs. The possibility of dual-encryption is wide open.

Now that is IMO a very bad idea, as it would push people into $ky's
rapacious maw. TV should IMO all be Free to Air as the Beeb's channels
are ATM. ITV, Ch4 and Ch5 should follow Aunty's example

| Has Ofcom done anything to encourage this? My eye.

No it is the Conservatives who are stirring for everything to have Cam
slots. Now I wonder who brib^h^h^h^hdonated to Party Funds and persuaded
them to do that?
--
Dave Fawthrop dave hyphenologist co uk Sat ITV, Ch4, Ch5, only GBP20
http://www.freesatfromsky.com - "what is freesat?" - "view T&C" -
What will I receive "20 ... one Viewing Card". You will also need
$ky box and dish. List of Channels at http://www.wickonline.com/fta.htm
 




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