• The GiftBot 2.0 Launch Giveaway Extravaganza has come to a close with an astounding 8073 games given away to the community by 696 members, a huge success thanks to you! The gifting now continues with more official prizes in the new Gaming Giveaways |OT|. Leftover Steam codes are also being given away to the PC Gaming Era community.

Why are "HD" broadcasts still 720P or 1080i?

BennyWhatever

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,923
US
Broadcasters were using ancient equipment already when they were forced to upgrade to HD. They will be using that new equipment until it dies or they're mandated to make it even better. Some people were still editing reel-to-reel in 2010.

I worked at a TV station for 5 years and they would rather upgrade the set than the technology. Most people that make large budgeting decisions do not know enough about technology to understand its importance.
 

Lafazar

Member
Oct 25, 2017
478
Bern, Switzerland

TheAbsolution

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,794
Atlanta, GA
Because cable HD standards were developed in the mid 2000s and the entire production pipeline is tuned around those standards and none of the broadcasters want to spend gobs of money to upgrade something that frankly, a large percentage of their audience won’t notice.

There’s a new OTA standard coming along soon though that does support 4K broadcasts so that’s pretty cool.
 

caff!!!

Member
Oct 29, 2017
1,573
Satallite and cable don't even send HD, they send some half-HD compressed stuff so they can fit more sports and PPV in
 

Reinhard

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,200
Comcast is broadcasting terribly compressed on top of their bad signal
Not only is it compressed, many stations that should be broadcast in "HD" are still in SD like Cooking Network, DIY, movie channels such as HBO/Showtime/Cinemax aside from the main channel. Plus, their Guide is a freaking joke, the channels are half hazardly thrown together in some random order that makes no sense, there is always an advertisement in the guide that takes up allot of space, so it is a nightmare to try to randomly find something to watch. I just use voice control to go to a few specific channels, sigh. I think part of the problem is they had some legacy layout in the guide and kept adding in random channels in HD and SD, when they should just throw everything out and start over and organize their freaking guide so it makes sense.
 
Oct 27, 2017
46
Not only is it compressed, many stations that should be broadcast in "HD" are still in SD like Cooking Network, DIY, movie channels such as HBO/Showtime/Cinemax aside from the main channel. Plus, their Guide is a freaking joke, the channels are half hazardly thrown together in some random order that makes no sense, there is always an advertisement in the guide that takes up allot of space, so it is a nightmare to try to randomly find something to watch. I just use voice control to go to a few specific channels, sigh. I think part of the problem is they had some legacy layout in the guide and kept adding in random channels in HD and SD, when they should just throw everything out and start over and organize their freaking guide so it makes sense.
Yep. It’s really bad. Of the 10 HBO channels, a whopping 2 are HD. And the signal quality is so compressed, it’s like a blurry 480p at times. I almost always stream through HBO GO vs. watching anything live, especially for event programming. There are a few local broadcast channels that aren’t compressed to hell - mainly prime time NFL broadcasts and that’s about it. It’s disgusting that they get away with it, but apparently most people don’t notice. I’ve also seen them try and deny their differing compression is any different than others, but it’s bullshit. My TWC feed when i was in NYC was literally 2x as good, minimum. When I moved, I thought I was watching SD feeds when it first came on. Oh well, no recourse.
 

jfkgoblue

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,425
Satallite and cable don't even send HD, they send some half-HD compressed stuff so they can fit more sports and PPV in
That’s not true. They send HD signals that are compressed to yes, fit more channels in, but they are still HD. It’s not like OTA signals are any different no matter what people try to say.

There are 2 HD broadcast standards: 720p and 1080i and all channels labeled as “HD” are within either of these 2 standards
 

lunarworks

Member
Oct 25, 2017
7,460
Toronto
ATSC 1.0 and MPEG-2. Both were products of '90s technology, and aimed at CRTs. Running a 1080p CRT was insanely expensive.

Keeping it at 1080i or 720p also frees up enough bandwidth to allow sub-channels, so broadcasters stick to those standards, and since that's the feed the cable carriers get, they stick with it there too.

I know they shoehorned H.264 into ATSC 1.0, but I don't think I've heard of any broadcasters using it. They're skipping ATSC 2.0, and going straight to ATSC 3.0 in the near future, which uses HEVC (heck of an upgrade from MPEG-2) and will support 4K OTA. Gonna need a new set or set-top-box, though.
 
Last edited:

Anth0ny

Member
Oct 25, 2017
17,361
they could get away with 480p and low bitrates

99% of the population can't tell the difference/don't care
 

JaseC64

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,450
Strong Island NY
Yup why Walking Dead back when I used to watch look like dog shit. I tune out of my favorite movies due to this. I'd rather watch through streaming service like hulu or prime. Fuck that ota trash.
 

sangreal

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,454
1080i isn't sub-1080p. I mean, the experience is worse but not the resolution

Not only is it compressed, many stations that should be broadcast in "HD" are still in SD like Cooking Network, DIY, movie channels such as HBO/Showtime/Cinemax aside from the main channel. Plus, their Guide is a freaking joke, the channels are half hazardly thrown together in some random order that makes no sense, there is always an advertisement in the guide that takes up allot of space, so it is a nightmare to try to randomly find something to watch. I just use voice control to go to a few specific channels, sigh. I think part of the problem is they had some legacy layout in the guide and kept adding in random channels in HD and SD, when they should just throw everything out and start over and organize their freaking guide so it makes sense.
really? all of these have been HD for years (10+?) on FIOS which mostly has to deal with the same QAM limitations for TV
 

Reinhard

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,200
1080i isn't sub-1080p. I mean, the experience is worse but not the resolution



really? all of these have been HD for years (10+?) on FIOS which mostly has to deal with the same QAM limitations for TV
I don't understand it either. DirecTV had none of these issues, it was incredibly rare that any station wasn't 1080i HD, but it seems like with Comcast nearly half the stations are still SD. And the Guide with DirecTV was a million times better, channel 13 was recognized as HD ABC without having to be channel 682 and similar stations were all grouped together such as all the big cable channels with original content, science/history channels, etc. I just went with Comcast because the all-in-one package was cheaper, especially when selecting high speed internet and wanting HBO/Showtime. Plus, any hint of rain just ruined DirecTV signal for me even though they tried to fix it multiple times (it should only go out during a really bad storm when you have a solid signal).
 

jfkgoblue

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,425
Yup why Walking Dead back when I used to watch look like dog shit. I tune out of my favorite movies due to this. I'd rather watch through streaming service like hulu or prime. Fuck that ota trash.
The Walking Dead purposefully puts a grain filter to do this, that’s not because of the cable compression
 

FLEABttn

Member
Oct 25, 2017
525
really? all of these have been HD for years (10+?) on FIOS which mostly has to deal with the same QAM limitations for TV
Bandwidth set aside for QAM TV on a cable provider takes away from bandwidth you could be using for internet. FiOS doesn’t have this problem because it’s not a copper based system.

Comcast is eventually moving away from QAM entirely and switching to IPTV in the not so distant future and channel quality might increase at that point. Some of their more niche channels are already IPTV, but don’t have comcast cable to compare the two.
 

bevishead

Member
Jan 9, 2018
242
I can't stand Comcast picture quality. I have been through different boxes and different tv's and it is terrible. I love the quality of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and most other streaming services. Only reason i put up with comcast is my wife loves HGTV.
 

KHarvey16

Member
Oct 27, 2017
8,009
Last NPD reporting I can see is from June of last year and says 10% of television owners in the US have a 4K television.
 

Dishwalla

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
9,870
Boise, Idaho
It still amazes me somewhat how big people are on HD picture quality and 4K and whatnot. When I was a kid I had no problem watching TV through static, as long as I could see the picture I didn't care. Watched so many hours of cartoons on weak TV signals filled with snow.
 

Whitemex

Member
Oct 27, 2017
4,654
Chicago
I can't stand Comcast picture quality. I have been through different boxes and different tv's and it is terrible. I love the quality of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and most other streaming services. Only reason i put up with comcast is my wife loves HGTV.
Watching GoT was awful. Dark scene and compression artifacts everywhere. I had to stream to watch
 

Syriel

Member
Dec 13, 2017
6,544
Practically everyone has 1080P screens now, most people have 4K. Why are broadcasts still showing sub 1080P resolutions?
4k cameras, encoding hardware, editing, etc. are all extra transmission costs.

UA stations upgraded fully to HD/ATSC not too long ago. NTSC was around for much longer.

There is also licensing. Studios don't want unencrypted UHD content going OTA where it can be easily recorded.

Bandwidth and most casual viewers won't be able to tell much of a difference.
Bandwidth plus sports especially can be quite “flickery” at 1080p
ATSC 1.0 and MPEG-2. Both were products of '90s technology, and aimed at CRTs. Running a 1080p CRT was insanely expensive.

Keeping it at 1080i or 720p also frees up enough bandwidth to allow sub-channels, so broadcasters stick to those standards, and since that's the feed the cable carriers get, they stick with it there too.

I know they shoehorned H.264 into ATSC 1.0, but I don't think I've heard of any broadcasters using it. They're skipping ATSC 2.0, and going straight to ATSC 3.0 in the near future, which uses HEVC (heck of an upgrade from MPEG-2) and will support 4K OTA. Gonna need a new set or set-top-box, though.
1) Bandwidth is not an issue for OTA.

2) Any TV that supports Netflix UHD has a hardware HEVC decoder. That is used for multiple apps and could also be used for OTA broadcasts.
 

lunarworks

Member
Oct 25, 2017
7,460
Toronto
2) Any TV that supports Netflix UHD has a hardware HEVC decoder. That is used for multiple apps and could also be used for OTA broadcasts.
They have an HEVC decoder, but they don't have an ATSC 3.0 tuner. I'm unsure if that could be added via firmware, or if it will need specific hardware, but the way industry news sites talk about it it seems like it won't be through new firmware.