Saturday, June 17, 2006

32 Months and Counting: What's Changed?

Once again, it's the 17th, 32 months until the current "hard" date on which analog broadcasting is supposed to cease. This is the 3rd of 34 planned monthly recaps of developments affecting the various players (laid out in my first few posts) in this story. So here's how they fared:

THE PUBLIC -It's been awhile since I've seen any new surveys regarding public awareness and attitudes, so I was glad to see this article from CE Pro which points to a PDF download containing an issue of The Bridge reporting on a survey by The Leichtman Group). The figures, however, don't show a lot of change. Of HD owners, 43% are watching HD programming, 57% are not. For the 43% who are watching, OTA has a tiny sliver (3%), while cable/satellite get 40%. For the 57% who are not, 40% know they're not, and 17% mistakenly believe they are. There's a lot more info as well (including some discouraging numbers regarding intent to purchase HD).

For a purely anecdotal data point, read my June 10th post.

BROADCASTING - Broadcasters modified their objections to cable downcoversion after the analog shutdown, becoming less resistant to provision of an analog signal (necessary to have a viable analog-cable package), while adding objections to conversion of HD to plain old digital cable. I covered this here and here.

They also won a major victory over cable in regard to multicasting (see the GOVERNMENT section).

No more info about broadcast news going HD. But one veteran network newsman may be about to do just that, by leaving the broadcast world for HDNet.

PROGRAM PROVIDERS - There's been a common theme to most of the posts I've been writing the past month; the ability (or lack of same) of the various providers to find the bandwidth to add present and future HD networks. One of the things that will restrain cable's attempts to keep up with satellite, FIOS et al will be the need to keep analog cable around for at least a couple of years after 2/17//09, so it may be necessary to consider other methods. But if there's no way for cable to avoid a "channel gap" in the long run, will new networks delay launching?

Kind of ironic timing there, with my local Comcast region adding ESPN2 and MHD, (as well as giving NESN HD its own channel - it was previously sharing a channel with INHD2) in the space of a few days. (BTW, thanks to HD Beat for the kind comments.)

On the non-cable front, this HD Beat story reports that FIOS is embracing multicasting, as least as far as PBS is concerned, mirroring last year's cable deal.

HD NETWORKS -I haven't seen any new stories lately announcing plans for new HD networks. There was supposed to be a "summer preview" of A&E HD sometime this month (full channel launch scheduled for September), but I've heard nothing about where that might be showing (the INHD channels would be prime suspects for that, but their published schedules through the end of this month don't show anything that looks like it). INHD's new MOJO programming block caused some confusion among AVS posters speculating on the fate of INHD2 and Comcast's next channel add.

MANUFACTURERS - Schubin's Memo, my favorite source for sales data, is back after nearly two months off, and Mark is reporting that (according to the CEA)digital sets account for 59.4% of sales for the first 21 weeks of 2006. I'm still very interested in how much of that is HD vs. the new digital SDTVs. In 2005 (again, according to the CEA) HD sets accounted for about 82% of DTV sales, but that was before the tuner mandate this March positioned the SDTV as an affordable replacement option for analog owners.

On the next-gen DVD front, things are about to get more interesting with the June 25th introduction of Blu-ray. How long to the release of comparative sales figures?

GOVERNMENT - As mentioned above, the broadcasters appear set to win a big one next month as the FCC seems ready to impose multicast must-carry. But expect Congress to have something to say about this.

UPDATE (6/18): While nothing has passed the full Congress, I was remiss in neglecting to mention here the COPE act (which passed the House) and the more comprehensive telecom bill under consideration in the Senate, both of which would create a national franchising process that would make it radically easier for services like FIOS to expand. More on this soon.

That's all for the moment!


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home