Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by WorldBandRadio, Oct 14, 2018.
Yeah, we'll see. Your predictions on this topic have been poor so far.
I just don't think that ESPNews or FS2 get big enough, often enough spikes in simultaneous viewers to worry about needing to either keep them on QAM or implement them via multicast. FS2 has stuff like practice trials for NASCAR and ESPNews is, uh, highlight clips, right? I'd say the same about ESPNU -- the biggest football games they carry are available on a more popular network in the areas where large viewers care about the teams playing. That may not be true with basketball, IDK. CBS Sports Network is just fishing, bull riding, and small college sports. It didn't even carry any March Madness games this year; that was all on CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV. All of those are part of Digital Starter. And Olympic Channels? C'mon. No one watches that. It's not even necessary when watching the *actual* Olympics live every two years.
Oops, yes. I meant D3.1 FDX. Yeah, Comcast first rolled out D3.1 in Chicago, Atlanta and here in Nashville before taking it nationwide. As I say, they seem to debut things here in the Central Division.
Yes, I agree. Too expensive right now to switch out all those digital adapters and non-X1 boxes and CableCARDs for a multicast gateway + Xi5s. Also, the more change you force and the greater the number of subscribers you force it on, the more TV subscribers you're going to completely lose. So better to phase the changes in gradually over the next 2-3 years.
Look, Comcast can't sell a given channel package to consumers and then NOT include some of the channels that are supposed to be in that package. Let's think through this step by step.
For the next couple years, Comcast will only provision IPTV service to customers who take BOTH Comcast TV AND internet service. At some point in the future, that will no longer be true and they'll just issue a multicast gateway plus IPTV boxes to standalone TV customers but we're not there yet. (BTW, once we get to that point in time, I expect that broadband+TV customers will also be required to rent a multicast-capable gateway, e.g. XB6, from Comcast too. Maybe they'll throw it in "free" as part of the bundle pricing. No more using your own modem and router unless you're doing standalone internet.)
Comcast will, however, continue to offer TV as a standalone service in the immediate future. Therefore, whatever packages that Comcast offers to those customers, all the included channels must necessarily be available via QAM in at least SD. Because if a channel isn't in QAM, the standalone TV customer isn't getting it.
As their new Central Division markets rate cards reveal, there are exactly 2 packages that Comcast will sell to standalone TV customers: Limited Basic (which actually *can* be combined with internet if desired) and Digital Starter (which *cannot* be combined with internet at all, at least for new sign-ups). Higher tier packages, such as Digital Preferred and Digital Premier, simply cannot be signed up for by anyone any more.
Beyond that, subscribers to both Limited Basic and Digital Starter will have the option to add any of the following: HBO, Showtime, Starz, Cinemax, The Movie Channel (ha!), Playboy and Epix. All but Epix can be accessed in SD-only via a simple digital adapter. Epix requires that you use an actual set-top box and also pay the $10 HD Technology Fee. (A STB is included with Digital Starter but is an optional up-charge on Limited Basic.)
Do you see why this augurs so strongly toward the likelihood that all channels in Digital Starter, plus all premiums, will remain on QAM while OTHER channels outside those categories will NOT remain on QAM?
OK, I'll concede that it's possible that a few but not all upper-tier channels beyond Digital Starter will remain on QAM but Comcast won't continue to sell Digital Preferred to standalone TV subs since not ALL of the channels in that package would be available to them. If that proves to be the case, then yeah, there might be a few sports channels like ESPNU or whatever that would still be on QAM for awhile, just to avoid having to serve so many unicast IPTV streams for them. But I really remain skeptical that there's anything popular enough outside of Digital Starter to justify staying on QAM for the sake of optimizing network traffic. I mean, really, when you consider that streaming video at this point is as popular as cable TV, Comcast is at any given time serving up a TON of unicast streams anyhow. What's a few more for live viewers of ESPNews, Nicktoons and Paramount Network?
Remember, if you're a standalone TV customer without internet, you can't use HBO Now, or HBO Go, nor can you any longer even use XoD. Those live linear premium channels delivered through their cable TV service are those folks' only options for ad-free entertainment (other than watching DVDs).
Semi-related thought: I wonder if Comcast will still rent physical DVRs to standalone TV subs on Limited Basic and Digital Starter so that they can create their own on-demand libraries from linear channels? Does Comcast have enough inventory of working non-X1 DVRs left to bother continuing to recycle them out to new subs? Is it worth it for that $10/mo account-wide DVR service fee? Or do you simply allow existing deployed non-X1 DVRs continue to be used until they die but tell new sign-ups that if they want DVR, they'll either need to also take internet service or they can have a CableCARD to use in their own TiVo? In pondering this question, remember that Comcast doesn't *really* want to offer standalone TV service anyhow but they must as part of their franchise agreements, right?
The line between QAM and IPTV-only channels has to be drawn somewhere. Makes sense to me to draw it at the edges of a particular channel package. It's easier to communicate to customers too: "If you sign up for TV and broadband, you must take one of the new IPTV-available packages: Basic, Extra or Preferred. If you take only TV, you must take an old QAM-only package: Limited Basic or Digital Starter. If you're an existing customer using QAM-only hardware, you must either be content with one of the two old QAM-only packages or you must switch out your hardware to something that is IPTV-capable."
How so? I've been predicting that it's coming for a long time now. If you look back over the past few years, I've mostly predicted that the QAM channel shutdown would take place, or begin, in 2019 or 2020. That's been the timeframe when my research suggested there would be a big enough base of IPTV-capable X1 boxes in use in order to allow Comcast to begin eliminating QAM channels without a big upheaval and big equipment replacement expense all at once.
In the past year, I've come around more to Bigg's argument that the shutdown will happen in two or more phases, starting with the less popular channels before hitting the more popular ones.
What have I predicted on this topic that has been proven false so far? Just because something has yet to come true doesn't mean it won't.
But I'll go ahead and draw a line in the sand time-wise by predicting that at least some existing QAM channels will disappear from at least some Comcast systems by the end of 2020, becoming available solely via IPTV.
Yup but if there was an award for 2000 word essays on speculation related to ATT or Comcast 1-45 years from now tv plans he would win
I'll be sure to remind you when my predictions prove true. (No, actually I won't, because I'll have completely forgotten anything you posted...)
LOL Spoken like a true FanBoy!
The thing is it's different in every market. In CT, they see as large of a spike as anything in that package would, due to carrying NCAA basketball, our state sport. Other places, probably not so much. It depends on node size. If they have small enough nodes, maybe they can tolerate massive unicast bandwidth drains a few times a year, or if DSG can support a rudimentary form of IP multicast for a couple of channels, get all of the X1 boxes locked onto the same 8 QAMs and do it that way. There is some logic to say that if you've got half the node watching ESPNews or CBSSN, they're not watching Netflix or Amazon or Hulu, so maybe that bandwidth drain isn't so bad.
They do today. There are 3 IP-only channels in either Starter or Preferred, I can't remember which. If you don't have X1, you don't get them.
This seems like a violation of something, although I guess they could force you to rent their gateway for TV, and then allow you to have a separate modem and/or eMTA for those services.
Sort of, but it's odd that they're allowing premiums to be added on to non-IP boxes when the VOD is all-IP, and those premiums are primarily a VOD play anyway.
They could just leave the 4 or 5 that carry college sports on QAM to avoid those spikes when that area's team is playing.
Why couldn't they use HBO Go? You seem to be assuming that they have no internet at all. They might have wireless internet in their apartment building, they might have DSL or VDSL, or they might be sharing with neighbors or using someone else's xfinitywifi password. There are various other ways to get internet out there. They don't usually make a lot of economic sense, but it's certainly possible.
It makes more sense to draw the lines based on a bandwidth perspective. And they did roll off lesser watched channels in the analog days in groups of a few channels at a time to convert to digital and DOCSIS, so it's not without precedent that it's been done. They rolled off group after group for several years before finally going all-digital. The idiotic part is that for a long time they didn't have digital simulcasts of the analog channels, so the DVRs would pull them off of analog, where they looked like crap, and then encode them to digital for storage.
Hmm. I honestly had no idea that ESPNews actually carried live games, but if you say so.
Right. That's why I think we might be putting a bit too much emphasis on their supposed need for multicast or linear QAM channels. Sure, they need them to an extent, as they do help keep IP traffic down but OTOH Comcast is already dealing with a customer base that spends an increasing percentage of their video viewing hours accessing other companies' unicast streams on Comcast's IP network anyhow, whether that's Netflix or Hulu or YouTube TV. And at least if a customer is accessing Comcast IPTV's own unicast streams, they're probably not accessing a third-party unicast stream at the same time. So in that sense, it's an even trade-out.
One of them is a shopping channel (QVC 3?). Another is a NewsMax, I believe (a niche right-wing opinion/news channel). Both of those stream for free online. So it's not like they're anything of real value to most subs. I wonder if Comcast even lists/advertises those channels as included in the package to which they belong (Digital Preferred, I think). My hunch is that Comcast added those as their first IPTV-only channels as a sort of technology experiment, to get the implementation right with stuff that doesn't matter before they shift *actual* existing channels folks care about over from QAM to IPTV-only.
But my larger point remains. IF Comcast planned to retain all of the channels in Digital Preferred on QAM, then why wouldn't they monetize that bandwidth as fully as possible by allowing standalone QAM-only TV customers to buy that package, along with Digital Starter and Limited Basic? Why not offer those customers the option to pay MORE per month for TV if their system can easily deliver all the channels in the Digital Preferred package? The most logical conclusion is that Comcast is ceasing to sell Digital Preferred and higher last-gen packages to new standalone QAM-only TV subs because many (if not all) of the incremental channels in Digital Preferred will no longer be on QAM.
Why? AT&T Internet requires you to always take their gateway. You can use your own router if you like by putting their gateway into passthrough mode. Why would the rules be difference for an HFC operator vs. a fiber operator? I see no reason why Comcast couldn't require their internet+TV subs to take an XB6 gateway as part of their package. (For that matter, I'm not sure why they couldn't require ALL their internet customers to take their gateways if they wanted that. But I doubt that they would.)
Well, folks like you and me think of HBO, Showtime, etc. as primarily on-demand services now but that's not true of everyone. Some viewers (especially older ones, I'd guess) still exclusively think of the premiums as "cable channels". And, as I've said before, Comcast's standalone QAM-only TV subs now have no way to watch that premium content on-demand anyhow. XoD has vacated QAM and gone all-IP. And if you're on standalone TV without internet, you can't use HBO Go, Showtime Anytime, etc. Nor can you buy those services directly via streaming. So if Comcast's standalone TV customers want premium ad-free services, they've probably only got ONE way to get them: their cable box. Just like in the old days.
True. As I've conceded already, it's possible that a small number of sports channels outside of Digital Starter be left on QAM for the benefit of IP-video traffic management (which, I suspect, is not as big a challenge for Comcast as you tend to think). For my area, I see no channels outside of the DS package (except for premiums) that would need to be left on QAM. But perhaps in some areas like yours, due to differences in which teams get carried on which channels, it would be necessary.
Sure, it's possible but it's not likely. My larger point stands that it probably makes economic sense for Comcast to still leave 3 or so QAMs for premium channels because it would be worth the incremental revenue those channels would bring in from standalone TV subs (and, as a bonus, if the main HD channel from each premium service stayed on QAM, that would ease a bit of IP traffic system-wide on weekend nights when new original episodes and theatrical films debut).
Well, it should be based on bandwidth but must also conform to the contours of existing channel packages. If Comcast still wants/needs to offer standalone cable TV service -- and they do -- then they need to have one or more all-QAM-channel packages to sell them (since serving customers via IPTV requires having Comcast internet service). Now, sure, they could decide which channels to retain on QAM solely based on bandwidth needs (i.e. what are the channels that tend to draw the most simultaneous viewers?) and then offer ONLY those channels to standalone TV subscribers. All other channels would become IPTV-only and therefore only available to TV subs who also take internet service.
The problem, though, is that that group of QAM channels wouldn't match up with any existing channel package grouping. It would heavily tend toward locals, sports and news channels and contain relatively few entertainment channels. Comcast would have to re-negotiate carriage contracts with all of the channels involved to get permission to sell just those channels together in a newly created QAM-only channel package just for standalone TV subs (which, keep in mind, constitute a modest percentage of their overall TV customer base). One of the most contentious aspects of those carriage contract negotiations is which package/tier a given channel will go in. Do you see how that concept is just a non-starter for Comcast? No, it just makes a lot more sense to take an existing channel package which is covered by existing carriage contracts -- Digital Starter -- and make those channels the ones you retain on QAM (plus *maybe* a few outside of it, like ESPNews, if necessary for bandwidth considerations too).
Of course, there's nothing that would require Comcast to continue offering the $10 HD Technology Fee upgrade alongside Digital Starter. At any point, they could decide to stop offering that feature, enabling them to eliminate from QAM the HD versions of whichever channels they don't need to retain from a bandwidth perspective. And as more and more homes gain multicast-capable gateways, fewer and fewer HD channels would need to be kept on QAM for bandwidth reasons. This is why I can imagine the full set of Digital Starter SD channels remaining on QAM for the length of the QAM phase-out (maybe 2-3 years), while the HD channels in that package gradually disappear, with perhaps some of the less popular ones immediately missing as soon as Comcast begins deprecating QAM TV. I guess paying that HD Tech Fee doesn't guarantee that you'll get a certain minimum number of channels in your package in HD. I suppose Comcast might still charge it to those QAM-only standalone TV customers even if all the offered in HD were your major locals plus a dozen sports and news cable channels. Maybe they'd be generous and knock it down from $10 to $5 at that point, heh.
1st question I've GOT to ask...do you even have Comcast services YOURSELF? Maybe it might be prudent for you to at least take a cursory check at some of the statements you are reporting as "facts", that really are not. (or if you don't have it, maybe go check it out at someone's house that has the service...just saying...)
2nd...where IN the world ARE you coming up with this FUD??? I (& several others) have non-IP (legacy) Moto boxes, that very much STILL gets ALL the OND premiums just fine, thank you: (attached are just a few screen shot examples from today - & YES, they DO actually show OND programming...)
ESPNews generally isn't scheduled for live games, but during the tournaments (highest viewership all season), there are a few congested slots where they carry full games, and throughout the season they often carry parts of games when other stuff is running over on the channel is was supposed to be on (say ESPN2), and then they cut back to news programming. I ran into this several times on my previous local provider that didn't have ESPNews in digital, and my Premiere XL4 didn't have an analog tuner, so I had the cable split out to the TV to tune ESPNews in analog until it switched over to ESPN2 or ESPNU, which were in HD and SD digital QAM respectively (ESPN2 was at a nice 16.98mbps).
True, I guess we'll see.
QVC3 is in Limited Basic, NewsMax is in Expanded Basic, and i24 is in Preferred, all of which are IP-only and listed on the lineup.
I would agree, and also to shut up the right-wingnuts with NewsMax so they don't claim some conspiracy about Comcast and MSNBC without having to actually use up QAM bandwidth.
Could be. I guess we'll see.
I thought there was a law requiring MSOs to allow use of user-owned modems? I'm preparing myself for wiring my parents up with an eMTA, a faster data modem and an XB6 all lined up next to each other.
Why not HBO Go? I don't think they block it for TV-only subscribers who have alternate internet access. For the very few people who have TV and no internet at all, well then they wouldn't have access to the app. I'm guessing their TV-only subscribers are an ever shrinking group, however, as economically it makes MUCH more sense to go with YouTube TV or Sling TV or some other provider if you have a different internet provider that doesn't offer TV service, like a Google Fiber, WebPass, etc. At my grandmother's complex, some of the folks go down to the common area and use community Wi-Fi (and I'm betting some are using other people's xfinitywifi logins), but they all have X1 anyway, as their building was installed as all-RFoG, all-X1. It's just so odd to keep premiums on QAM when they are primarily a VOD offering today.
We're so far behind on everything, there won't be traditional pay TV by the time they get to us with upgrades.
The thing is, they don't have to require internet for IPTV. It's not rocket science to roll out XB6 gateways that are locked down, and they crank up the xfinitywifi count while they're at it.
No. You're way over-complicating it. They can keep the existing packages, and move blocks of lesser-watched channels over to IPTV. If people want to keep those channels, then they need to swap obsolete equipment out for IPTV-capable (X1) equipment. They did it with analog, they did it with MPEG-4. They can do it with IPTV. I think they have to offer 60 or 90 days of written notice per franchise regulations, but again, they've been there, done that.
I think their bottom line is that they are taking the slow path in order to minimize the cost of new IP-capable boxes, and minimize support costs of switching out every grandma out there who can't plug a box into the cable jack, and requires a truck roll.
I feel like this is some sort of half-assed compromise between the business and network engineering folks. The business folks don't want to do anything because it costs money, while the network engineering folks want to go 100% IPTV in one fell swoop with forced migration of all TV subs to XB6 gateways and IP multicast. I can just about guarantee that whatever they do, it will be completed in one market (maybe Chicago) at least 5 years before it's completed in Connecticut, Northern California, and a few other also-ran markets.
I have Comcast broadband but haven't had their TV service for years. But that's beside the point. My own experience would simply be one data point -- one specific combination of equipment, services, and location -- out of millions of Comcast customers spread across multiple regions.
Just because on-demand is working for you on a QAM-only box doesn't mean it does for everyone. I've searched for the relevant posts from several months back but can't find them now. At any rate, before Comcast announced the discontinuation of their XoD app for TiVo earlier this spring, some TiVo users posted that "fiber upgrades" being done in their area had resulted in them no longer being able to access on-demand. This was a prior, separate development from the XoD app shutdown in June. Based on the info that had been given from a Comcast tech, it sounded as though on-demand was being removed from QAM (or somehow made in compatible with it), but only in those specific areas.
And then in June, Comcast pulled the plug completely on their XoD app for TiVo, which obviously has no IP-access to Comcast's TV services.
Combine those developments with the fact that X1 boxes rely on IP, not QAM, for access of on-demand content and it looks like QAM-based on-demand may be on its way out soon. I thought it already was eliminated in some areas but maybe not.
It's all market by market, so there are probably some that have QAM VOD and some that don't. It may also depend on the systems, with the lower frequency systems seeing the end of QAM VOD sooner than higher frequency ones. I know IP VOD was standard for XB3s here more than 2 years ago, but they were still using QAM VOD for XG1s. I believe that all X1 boxes now use IP VOD.
So, as I suspected, ESPNews isn't very important in the grand scheme of live viewership numbers.
Not about rocket science. It's about equipment costs and spreading them out over a long transition period. By the end of the transition period, yes, they'll have distributed a lot of those XB6s or similar multicast-capable gateways.
Nope. You're still not thinking clearly. It's not just about swapping out QAM-only equipment for IPTV-capable equipment. It's also about having *internet service* since that's a necessary pre-condition for IPTV access.
They can't sign up a standalone TV subscriber (to whom they are NOT giving a locked-down XB6 gateway) for Digital Preferred if all of the channels exclusive to Digital Preferred are IPTV-only (or will be shortly after signing up the new customer). Here's how that conversation would go:
"Hey, yesterday I signed up for standalone TV service, the Digital Preferred package. But today I noticed that a bunch of my upper channels disappeared. What gives?"
"Yes, we switched those channels to a new technology that's not compatible with your set-top box. If you'd like to get those channels back (which you're paying for as part of your TV service), then you'll need to not only switch out your box but you'll also need to subscribe to Comcast internet."
See how that doesn't work?
Now, when it comes to *existing* Comcast cable TV customers that are already on Digital Preferred, if they also have Comcast internet service but they're still using QAM-only STBs and/or CableCARDs, I suspect Comcast will say, "Hey, we're no longer selling your Digital Preferred package but we'll grandfather it on your account and you can keep it as long as you want. But to do that, we're gonna need you to switch to an IPTV-capable device. If you want to stick with your current QAM-only device, you can do that too, but we'll have to downgrade you to the Digital Starter or Limited Basic package."
But that had NOTHING to do with (supposed) imminent shutdown of QAM-based XoD...it had everything to do with those particular servers running on an older operating system that's EOL - which Comcast obviously decided to NOT upgrade/fix. I still do not get where you are seeing that (very) particular circumstance, & conflate that into Comcast imminently AND widely, shutting down ALL non-IP XoD content - & I (still) do NOT see that even happening sometime next year. But when it does, I assure you I'll notice it fairly soon...since I'm using my Moto box for the XoD I lost from the Tivo.
It was ONLY in those very few areas, where Comcast was "trying out" using EPON, instead of RFoG for all-fiber delivery within certain complexes (apartments/condos/master community, etc.)...& even those (few) areas were being used within a larger legacy fiber/coax network system. And from other posts I've seen, it ALSO appears that Comcast has decided to NO longer do EPON, & go with RFoG now...so now that will be a moot point going forward.
Except that it creates massive spikes in certain markets. And that may be true for other sports-related channels in other markets. If they can handle that as IP unicast for a while, then maybe they do it that way, but it's still very important in a handful of places.
Sure, they're cheap. But the point is, it can be done. It's not a technology problem.
Two issues here.
1. If the lesser-watched channels are IP unicast, then they would be fine with an X1 box alone with no internet plan from Comcast, since the X1 boxes have built-in DSG DOCSIS 3.0 modems.
2. If they move to IP-multicast, then Comcast would have to provision them with a locked down XB6 gateway. It's all just filtering on the network, so they could choose to enable no connectivity except for their own cable boxes, just offer xfinitywifi to other users, or offer a captive walled garden system that only works for NBCU-owned websites (i.e. they could read the news on MSNBC.com, watch streaming video on tv.xfinity.com or manage their Comcast account on Comcast.com) and redirects users to buy Comcast internet service if they try to go outside of the walled garden.
Except that it works just fine if they provision them with a locked-down XB6 gateway. People may not be happy with a pile of routers and crap, but then they have to decide if they want to switch their internet over to a bundle with Comcast, or keep whatever piles of electronics and wires they have to use a different ISP.
And for the occasional grandma who doesn't have internet access at all, they'll send a truck out, convert her to IPTV, and she'll never know the difference, or need to know/care what the XB6 does.
You're correct in that QAM-based VOD can continue on without TiVos having access to it, but it also could exist on some systems and not others.
EDIT: Fixed quotes
Indeed. When I watch sports on Comcast (mostly Diamond League and F1) long shots do not resolve details, aliasing and occasional spider-webs abound, and the general picture tends to look like jaggy SD on in-motion objects. You can see the jaggies appear and disappear on each step a runner takes. Balls aren't much more than points when in motion. Close-ups look waxy and DNRed.
Is it the same for X1 boxes? I could see Comcast incentivizing its overpriced DVR in that way.
At least sports is native 720p, so as bad as they are they don't get an additional downrez step to degrade things like broadcast series do.
It's the video compression, not the box. The X1 boxes may have some picture settings and video processing to hide the artifacts, but the lack of detail and color is inherrent to cramming what is nominally a 9mbps feed that can be compressed down to an average of around 5mbps with a stat mux into a CBR 3.8mbps channel that looks fine as long as nothing moves or has a dark scene, in which case, there's just not enough bandwidth, and everything goes to hell.
CBS and NBC broadcast in 1080i so that’s what you still get on Comcast for their NFL games until they downrez them too.
*shrug* Show me the QAM channels that have been moved to IP on Comcast, then we can talk about hiding in the sand.
But right now the story is about folks crying wolf for the last 2-3 years.
Yeah they moved F1 qualifying this weekend to ESPNews and screwed those of us who don't have ESPNnews. And what's on ESPN2 instead? Sportscenter at 9am. And what's on ESPN. 2 hr College Football pre-game show. They did it a few months back too. And do they let you watch it on the app? No. You get rejected there too for not having ESPNnews even though ESPN2 is where the event is usually. Eventually ( the next day just before the actual race) they rerun the qualifying on ESPN2. sorry a little 1st-world bitterness about that inconvenience.