TiVo on QAM is Dead

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by Bigg, May 17, 2018.

  1. May 17, 2018 #1 of 227

    Bigg Cord Cutter

    Oct 30, 2003
    Provocative title, yes. I was reading over on DSLR, that Verizon FiOS's picture quality has absolutely tanked. I knew Frontier FiOS's quality was horrendous, Comcast is total trash after the MPEG-4 downgrade, and I haven't heard good things about Altice, Charter, or Cox when compared to DirecTV or OTA.

    I think QAM is pretty much dead. The MSOs and telcos seem to be entirely focused on internet, and are either bit-starving to an absurd extent (Comcast), or just have no clue how to encode (Verizon, Frontier, and maybe others).

    Short of some local yokel or small regional provider that's still offering decent VQ on QAM, I think QAM is dead. Just as 4k TVs came in and demanded better VQ, the providers started providing worse VQ. Combined with the massive cord-cutting movement that is rapidly changing the pay TV business, I think TiVo on QAM is basically dead.

    Here's to hoping that TiVo can navigate through the ATSC 3.0 transition, as OTA is TiVo's last hope. I love my Roamio OTA, and will continue to use it for my OTA consumption until 3.0 becomes a thing, and DVRs are available for it.
    sheshechic and Sgt Howl like this.
  2. May 17, 2018 #2 of 227

    TishTash Active Member

    Jan 23, 2008
    Merrick, NY
    (don’t mince words, Bones: what do you really think?)
    –Kirk to McCoy, “ST:tWoK” (’82)

    TiVo Roamios x4: 20, 16, 12, & 8 TB
    Today's lesson: “Max out your storage from the get-go!”
  3. May 17, 2018 #3 of 227

    PSU_Sudzi Well-Known Member

    Jun 4, 2015
    Philly suburbs
    I think Comcast may have tweaked there encoding as some shows now appear to be better quality than they were initially after the mpeg4 switchover.
  4. May 18, 2018 #4 of 227

    Bigg Cord Cutter

    Oct 30, 2003
    Holy fudge. What are you doing with all that storage? I did max out my 2TB during Rio back when Comcast had a few channels in the 17mbps range. Nowadays, my Roamio OTA with a 3TB goes between 0 and 2%, and even during PyeongChang, I think it hit 12-15% at one point.

    They're still extremely bit starved. Basketball is completely unwatchable, it's just a blurry mess. News channels are OK, as not much of anything moves on them.
  5. May 18, 2018 #5 of 227

    philco782 Active Member

    Sep 27, 2014
    What is the Comcast mpeg-4 switchover? Is that when the channels are appearing as 720p instead of 1080i? I'm on Comcast in south Florida and it seems currently most channels are 720p, and when I look at new recordings disk usage in kmttg, the bitrate is quite low. There's only a few local stations that are still in 1080i, and their bitrate is quite high.

    Is there a way to determine the type of encoding used? I poked around in kmttg and I saw some header fields that looked like stream information, but they all said mpeg-2.
  6. May 18, 2018 #6 of 227

    randian Active Member

    Jan 15, 2014
    Cord cutters think they escaped. They're wrong. Comcast wants to raise internet pricing as much as possible to capture them, so it's screwing its television customers to get the bandwidth since they don't want to invest in better physical plant. Which, interestingly, will probably accelerate cord cutting. And so far as I can tell, internet + several streaming services is very likely to cost more than the bundled cost of cable tv + internet, which makes the crap video quality Comcast is delivering even more obnoxious because it dilutes the value of their offering (a lot more channels than you can get streaming, even though it appears to me that Comcast has the smallest channel lineup of the major cable companies).

    The ever increasing download numbers they're touting are useless, once you've got 50mbit down or so to your home there's little need for more unless you have specialized requirements. What they need to do is increase upload speeds, those have remained pretty stagnant for years. Unfortunately if you want better upload you need to buy a massively overspecced download to go along with it.
    sheshechic, Bigg and kpeters59 like this.
  7. May 18, 2018 #7 of 227

    randian Active Member

    Jan 15, 2014
    So am I, and the smeared faces I see make HD look like bad SD. It's really bad on long distance shots you can't recognize faces.

    I have over 700 things in my suggestions folder now and only 11% usage on my 2TB drive.
    Bigg likes this.
  8. May 18, 2018 #8 of 227
    Diana Collins

    Diana Collins Well-Known Member TCF Club

    Aug 21, 2002
    New York...
    Verizon's PQ has deteriorated but I wouldn't say it has "tanked." They are packing too many channels per QAM for sure, but 90% of the time it looks fine. On some channels you get macroblocking on very fast action scenes (think explosions, strobe lights, etc.). But most of the time, the channels we watch most, are just fine. The biggest quality issues we see are not caused by Verizon, but by the channel themselves. Our WB affiliate is a particular offender. The video and audio quality is mediocre at best, including on the OTA broadcast.

    OTA isn't what it once was either. For that matter, DirecTV isn't as good as it once was. The public has made it clear that they prefer quantity over quality. The MVPD providers are happy to oblige.
  9. May 18, 2018 #9 of 227

    ah30k Well-Known Member

    Jan 8, 2006
    Last time I trialed OTT packages (ie Google TV) their picture quality for sports was terrible. The frame rate was too low. Baseball was comical with the inability to track the ball.
    Last edited: May 18, 2018
  10. May 18, 2018 #10 of 227

    JoeKustra in the other Alabama TCF Club

    Dec 7, 2012
    Ashland, PA...
    Nothing like a doom & gloom thread to keep the boredom away. QAM dead implies it is not living. So maybe it's not growing, but is OTA either? I don't watch the FCC, so I don't know how many new licenses were issued last year. That would be a measure of health. Quality isn't the reason. I bet there are as many 480i viewers and 1080i viewers. A good test for motion: watch a hockey game. Notice the ads when the camera pans to follow the puck. Boredom fix over.
    slowbiscuit, cwerdna and PSU_Sudzi like this.
  11. May 18, 2018 #11 of 227

    Bigg Cord Cutter

    Oct 30, 2003
    They switch everything over to 3.8-4.2mbps MPEG-4, and downrezzed to 720p. By everything, I mean all the cable channels. Locals are still passed directly through in MPEG-2 in all markets except Chicago.

    Yeah, pretty much spot on with everything you say there. I would add that cord cutting is primarily driven by economics, not video quality, but the video quality certainly isn't helping Comcast's value proposition.

    The local channels are a separate issue, since it sounds like that's the local channels compressing, not Verizon. Some of the stuff I saw in the DSLR thread was appalling, it is Comcast quality from 2 years ago before the MPEG-4 debacle. I haven't had a chance to see it for myself. I might be able to see FiOS on Saturday, but I'm not sure.

    OTA is all over the map. DirecTV is generally very good. I think we're more critical of it now that TVs are better. The thing is, the quality has gone way down, and the quantity hasn't gone up. The bandwidth has either gone towards internet (Comcast), or who knows where.

    The MVPDs should have been increasing picture quality as 4k TVs become a thing, but instead they decreased it. They shot themselves in the foot in terms of their TV offerings. VQ isn't the main driver behind cord cutting, but it's certainly not helping the situation.
  12. May 18, 2018 #12 of 227

    powrcow Member

    Sep 27, 2010
    This is what is frustrating with cable and why QAM has one foot in the grave. All growth and investment is going into IPTV. OTT services have been improving at a much faster rate than linear cable. We've now reached the point where picture quality on OTT services is, in many cases, better than linear cable. Not because OTT picture quality has improved greatly (is has) but because linear cable has decreased their quality.

    Many people on this forum still believe that cable, for all of its problems, provides a better deal. The overall cost of Internet + linear cable TV is about the same as Internet + several streaming services, especially if you like watching sports or a variety of programs. Additionally, TiVo users get the benefit of time/place shifting, offline viewing, and skipping commercials, something that many OTT services don't allow.

    But many of those same people know that since linear cable TV isn't improving, at some point we'll need to decide if the feature set OTT provides is better than the feature set in linear TV. It's not quite there yet for me, I *really* like skipping commercials and having responsive trick play controls.
  13. May 18, 2018 #13 of 227

    Bigg Cord Cutter

    Oct 30, 2003
    The other part of this is where the content is, and what content is worthwhile. The good content is pretty much gone from cable, what's left is news and sports, which is far less dependent on having a local DVR, and you still get a local DVR for OTA, where there are a ton of ads to skip, and you'd want the trickplay abilities.

    In terms of the cost, even if you own your TiVo, so you don't pay any box rental fees, they still whack you with broadcast, RSN, and sometimes CableCard fees. It does depend on what your internet options are to an extent. However, OTT is just so elegant. I'll take the extreme, and look at Cox, where you end up with a bunch of coax, a splitter, a TA, and two power supplies, versus streaming, where it's just an app that goes on streaming hardware you already have. Granted, with an OTA TiVo, you have some of the complexity of a cable TiVo, but not as much, as you just need a connection from the antenna to the TiVo, and there's no CableCard, TA, etc.

    OTT also offers the ability to dump the subscription when you don't need it, and pick it back up again when your sports team is back on. I think YTTV is really well targeted, they have all the sports channels, all the news channels, and not a whole lot more. That being said, the value proposition is still pretty lousy at $40/mo.

    Personally, I'm on the fence. I like watching basketball, but is it really worth $40/mo for the season? I'm not sure. It's certainly a better offer than paying $120/mo for DirecTV DBS. I guess it depends on how much time I have, and what else is going on in my life. I love OTA TV, Netflix, Amazon, and HBO and I want to check out CuriosityStream and a few things on Hulu, but I still have huge backlogs on everything else before I go that route.
  14. May 18, 2018 #14 of 227

    tarheelblue32 Well-Known Member

    Jan 12, 2014
    Raleigh, NC
    I'm in a Spectrum/legacy TWC market and I have to say the picture quality is pretty decent.
    Chris Gerhard, wish_bgr and andyw715 like this.
  15. May 18, 2018 #15 of 227

    tim1724 Active Member TCF Club

    Jul 3, 2007
    Temple City, CA
    It's pretty decent on the old Charter areas too. That's the upside of SDV and tuning adapters.

    And knowing Spectrum and their slow pace at doing any upgrades they'll keep using QAM for another decade.
    UCLABB, Bigg and computersteve like this.
  16. May 19, 2018 #16 of 227

    Bigg Cord Cutter

    Oct 30, 2003
    Yeah, Comcast really screwed up by not going to SDV. As much as we hate TAs with TiVos, SDV is the only way to offer 200 HD channels in decent quality and offer really fast internet over an HFC system.
    wish_bgr likes this.
  17. May 19, 2018 #17 of 227

    randian Active Member

    Jan 15, 2014
    I wouldn't hate TAs if they were reliable. My experience with Cox is that the TA would hang without warning at least once every 10 days or so. I would usually lose recordings that day because not only is the TA hung but it doesn't have the courtesy to tell the TiVo over the USB link that it lost signal. Channel change failures (where the signal is still good, but the channel didn't change even though the TA told the TiVo it did, so you record the wrong thing) were an all too common occurrence too. I pretty much assumed that the half-assed hardware and software in the TA was so because they really wanted you to rent their under-specced and over priced DVR offering.
  18. May 19, 2018 #18 of 227

    cwerdna Proud Tivolutionary

    Feb 22, 2001
    SF Bay Area, CA
    FWIW, I'm on Comcrap (I don't like the company nor their prices) but to me, the picture quality is fine. I wouldn't call it trash.

    Heck, I still record some things in standard def to save space and/or because I don't plan to keep them (e.g. news) and/or that aren't very important. That said, space is MUCH less of a problem now that I have a 3 TB Bolt Plus. It was a premium when I only had a 1 TB TiVo HD. I'd avoid recording in HD or delete HD recordings pretty quickly.

    I agree that QAM isn't dead.
    slowbiscuit likes this.
  19. May 19, 2018 #19 of 227

    slowbiscuit FUBAR

    Sep 19, 2006
    In the ATL
    It's not dead, but that doesn't stop folks from trolling with threads like these.
    jcondon, UCLABB and cwerdna like this.
  20. May 19, 2018 #20 of 227

    Bigg Cord Cutter

    Oct 30, 2003
    I would approach that with Hanlon's Razor; never attribute to malice what can be attributed to incompetence. That is to say, I don't think they're trying to upsell you so much as TA are a kludge and there are relatively few of them out there, so they get poor support as a result.

    That being said, I thought the forum consensus was that they have to be hard rebooted every night? Don't people put them on a timer to hard reboot at some odd time of the hour every morning at 0300 or 0400 or something?

    You either don't have MPEG-4, or you're blind. Or all you watch is news, in which case it's OK since talking heads don't require a lot of bits.

    I'm not trolling. Of course nothing dies overnight, but I think the handwriting is on the wall for QAM. For TiVo, with an enthusiast base, we've got better TVs, and actually pay attention to VQ, so for retail TiVos, QAM is a zombie.

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